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BOSTON, July 7, 2012 (Reuters) — U.S. Democratic Representative Barney Frank wed his longtime partner, James Ready, on Saturday, becoming the first sitting congressman to enter into a same-sex marriage.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick officiated the ceremony and added some levity by saying Frank, 72, and Ready, 42, had vowed to love each other through Democratic and Republican administrations alike, and even through appearances on Fox News, according to Al Green, a Democratic congressman from Texas.
Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat and a former chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, has been an openly gay congressman since the late 1980s.
He is well known for his legislative acumen, including as an architect of the reforms in the Dodd-Frank bill, which U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010 in the wake of the financial crisis following the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market.
Frank won a seat in Congress in 1980 and said he will retire at the end of the current term. Besides championing financial reform and the rights of fisherman, Frank has been a vocal supporter of gay rights, which have been gathering support in public opinion polls and U.S. high courts.
In May, for example, a federal appeals court in Boston ruled that a U.S. law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman unconstitutionally denies benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples.
The ruling on the 1996 law, the Defense of Marriage Act, marked a victory for gay rights groups and President Obama, whose administration announced last year it considered the law unconstitutional and would no longer defend it.
Also in May, President Obama openly endorsed gay marriage, a move that will surely be a flashpoint in the upcoming presidential election. His Republican opponent, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, opposes gay marriage, saying marriage should be limited to a union between one man and one woman.
Eight of the 50 states and the District of Columbia permit gay marriage. Several polls show U.S. public support of gay marriage rising.
Frank won a seat in Congress in 1980 and said he will retire at the end of the current term.
Term limits movement
"Homesteading" in Congress, made possible by reelection rates that approached 100% by the end of the 20th century, brought about a popular insurgency known as the "term-limits movement". The elections of 1990-94 saw the adoption of term limits for state legislatures in almost every state where citizens had the power of the initiative. In addition 23 states limited service in their delegation to Congress. As they pertain to Congress, these laws are no longer enforceable, however, as in 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned congressional term limits, ruling that state governments cannot limit the terms of members of the national government.