Barney Frank who was first elected to the House in 1980 will announce this afternoon that he will be retiring and NOT seeking re-election in 2012.
Frank, an openly gay “liberal” Democrat is the senior Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, a panel he chaired when Democrats held a majority for four years beginning in early 2007.
In his tenure Frank has weathered a major scandal as well as well as some criticism from the LGBT Community.
In 1985 Frank had engaged the services of a male escort named Stephen Gobie. Frank later hired Gobie as a driver despite knowing that he was on probation. Frank also used his House privileges to waive Gobie’s parking tickets. When Frank discovered that Gobie was running a prostitution service out of his Capitol Hill apartment, he fired him. Gobie responded by telling his story to the news media. Attempts to expel or censure Frank, led by members of the House Ethics Committee who included Rep. Larry Craig, (Mr. Tap Tap Tap) of all people failed
In April 2010 Frank blamed the gay community to cover for his failure of trying to get ENDA (The Employment Non-Discrimination Act) out of committee and finally onto the floor and up for vote. ENDA has been stalled for over 20 years.
But to be fair Frank defied stereotypes and helped kick open the political doors for LGBT Americans. Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act would never have happened without his leadership
And for that we are grateful.
According to the Boston Globe a close adviser of Frank’s has stated that the new district in which Frank would have had to run next year was a major factor in his decision. While it retained his Newton stronghold, it was revised to encompass more conservative towns while Frank also lost New Bedford, a blue-collar city where had invested a lot of time and become a leading figure in the region’s fisheries debate.”