News is currently breaking that openly gay Representative Barney Frank will retire at the end of this term. The 16 term Congressman will hold a press conference at 1pm today in Massachusetts to announce his decision. CBS News reports:
Longtime Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts is set to announce he will not seek re-election in 2012.
Frank first took office in Massachusetts' 4th congressional district in 1981 and served as chairman of the House Financial Services committee from 2007 to 2011.
Frank was the first openly gay man to be elected to Congress. Representatives David Ciccillini, Tammy Baldwin and Jared Polis are the other out elected officials serving in the House of Representatives. Baldwin is running for a Senate seat in 2012; she would be the first openly gay member of the Senate if elected.
LGBT org statements are starting to roll in. Sampling after the break.
National Stonewall Democrats
We are saddened by the news of Rep. Barney Frank's retirement from Congress.
Barney Frank was instrumental in the formation of our organization and as such, his contributions to LGBT equality will continue to build long after his retirement from Congress. Even so, as the first out gay person in Congress, his legacy in terms of the LGBT community is an important one. He blazed a trail for the LGBT community in many ways - most especially for the openly gay Representatives who followed him into the halls of Congress.
"From the first time I met Rep. Frank at a Stonewall Democrats function in Indianapolis, I have always respected his ability to cut through the malarky and move the standard forward," said Jerame Davis, National Stonewall Democrats' Interim Executive Director.
"Not only is he full of searing ripostes and witty bon mots, he has been a tireless advocate for LGBT equality for decades. He has been an original co-sponsor of almost every pro-LGBT piece of legislation introduced in the House and he strongly championed the Hate Crimes Act and the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, both of which are now law.
"As a founder of our organization, he holds a special place place in our hearts and we wish him all the best in whatever comes next."
Human Rights Campaign
WASHINGTON - Today, Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, issued the following statement on the news Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank will not seek reelection. Solmonese, a Massachusetts native, worked for Frank on one of his first campaigns for Congress:
"Barney Frank has exemplified true leadership over his more than 30 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. As the first openly gay Member of Congress, Barney defied stereotypes and kicked doors open 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. But it goes beyond that. His service as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee during a time of great economic upheaval made a gay man one of the most powerful people in the country and he used that power for great good. America, Massachusetts and LGBT people are better off for Barney Frank's service."
The Victory Fund
ashington, D.C.--Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, issued the following statement today regarding an announcement by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., that he will not seek reelection to Congress next year:
"Barney Frank's political career may be coming to an end, but his legacy will outlive us all. His decision to come out as gay more than two decades ago gave LGBT Americans an authentic voice and a persistent champion in Washington. He has used that voice loudly and often, speaking personally, humorously and effectively about the hopes and challenges of Americans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. We will miss that voice very much.
The good news is that Congressman Frank has also inspired a new generation of LGBT leaders who are following in his footsteps and choosing to serve in public office openly, honestly and unafraid to be themselves. More than simply inspiring them, he has helped them run and win, and he has been an enormously supportive and generous friend to the Victory Fund.
We are grateful for Congressman Frank's service to his country, his enduring honesty and his remarkable leadership in the fight to make our country freer and fairer for all Americans."
This country has never had a Congressman like Barney Frank, and the House of Representatives will not be the same without him. For over 30 years, Barney has been a fierce advocate for the people of Massachusetts and Americans everywhere who needed a voice. He has worked tirelessly on behalf of families and businesses and helped make housing more affordable. He has stood up for the rights of LGBT Americans and fought to end discrimination against them. And it is only thanks to his leadership that we were able to pass the most sweeping financial reform in history designed to protect consumers and prevent the kind of excessive risk-taking that led to the financial crisis from ever happening again. Barney's passion and his quick wit will be missed in the halls of Congress, and Michelle and I join the people of the Bay State in thanking him for his years of service.
Freedom to Marry
NEW YORK, November 28, 2011 - Today, following a news conference where Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) announced that he would not seek reelection in 2012, Freedom to Marry issued the following statements lauding the Congressman's record.
Below is a statement from Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry:
"As a public servant, Barney Frank has been an inspiration and a giant in an age where we've had few, and losing him as a leader in Congress and in public debate will be a painful blow for the country. Barney's excellence in shaping legislation and unparalleled voice in battling many of the wrong turns the country has taken have made extraordinary contributions to the history of our times. His singular and authentic personality has made politics look good at a time when so many events and electeds have made it look bad. I will miss his leadership, his brilliance, his liberal vision and values, and, of course, his corruscating wit. We need more Barney Franks in public life, not fewer, and fortunately we will always have his indelible example to work from."
Below is a statement from Marc Solomon, National Campaign Director for Freedom to Marry and formerly Executive Director of MassEquality:
"The movement for marriage will always be indebted for Barney Frank's stalwart leadership to protect marriage for same-sex couples in Massachusetts, America's first state to have it. He worked tirelessly, activating the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to lobby for votes in the State House, keynoting countless fundraisers for pro-equality state lawmakers, and himself making the case to many lawmakers for marriage, single-handedly turning several votes. His leadership and commitment were crucial difference-makers, and are part of his history-making track-record of accomplishment for LGBT people everywhere."
Representative Jared Polis
"Barney Frank was a groundbreaking pioneer and one of the most insightful, knowledgeable and humorous people ever to grace the halls of Congress. We will miss his leadership on a wide range of issues -- from fighting to reign in Wall Street's excesses and working to stabilize our economy to standing up for equal rights for LGBT Americans and curtailing runaway Pentagon spending. Congressman Frank championed the rights of all Americans, the economic security of all of our families, and a politics of inclusion and hope. It's a great loss for the Congress but Barney leaves behind an enviable record of accomplishment. I will miss his presence every day."
National Center for Transgender Equality
Washington, D.C. - In response to news of Congressman Barney Frank's retirement announcement, NCTE's Executive Director Mara Keisling issued the following statement:
"While the relationship between Congressman Frank and transgender people has not always been smooth, the truth is that he has pushed very hard for trans rights in Congress and the administration over the last few years.
Social justice work is largely about winning people to our side. As they become stronger allies, we have a moral and common sense obligation to embrace them and acknowledge their good work.
The effort and influence he has exerted for trans people has mattered and has moved us down the field. It will be somewhat harder to advance our cause in Congress with the Congressman gone, but justice will be won for trans, gay and bi people and Congressman Frank will have been a very important part of that."