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Barney Frank (born March 31, 1940), American politician, is a member of the United States House of Representatives. He is a Democrat, and has represented the 4th District of Massachusetts (map) since 1981. Frank is the most prominent openly gay politician in the United States.
Frank was born in Bayonne, New Jersey and was educated at Harvard College, graduating in 1962. He taught undergraduates at Harvard while studying for a PhD, but left in 1968, before completing his degree, to become the Chief Assistant to Mayor Kevin White of Boston, a position he held for three years. He then served for one year as Administrative Assistant to Congressman Michael J. Harrington .
In 1972 Frank was elected to the Massachusetts Legislature, where he served for eight years. During that time, he entered Harvard Law School and graduated in 1977. In 1979 he became a member of the Massachusetts Bar, before being elected to Congress in 1980. In 1987 he spoke publicly about his sexuality for the first time.
While in state and local government, Frank taught part-time at the University of Massachusetts Boston, the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Boston University. He published numerous articles on politics and public affairs, and in 1992 he published Speaking Frankly, an essay on the role the Democratic Party should play in the 1990s.
Frank is the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee and is also a member of the Select Committee on Homeland Security, where he serves on the Subcommittee on Infrastructure and Border Security and the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism.
Frank is a prominent figure in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, and has been outspoken on many human rights issue, as well as on issues of gay and lesbian rights. He said in a 1996 interview: "I’m used to being in the minority. I’m a left-handed gay Jew. I’ve never felt, automatically, a member of any majority." Like other Jewish Democrats, he has been a strong supporter of Israel.
In 1990 the House voted to reprimand Frank when it was revealed that Steve Gobie , a household employee he had hired in 1985, was running a prostitution business from Frank's apartment. Frank had dismissed Gobie in 1987 after learning of Gobie's activities.
The Boston Globe, among others, called on Frank to resign, but he refused. The House Ethics Committee recommended Frank be reprimanded because he "reflected discredit upon the House" by using his congressional office to fix 33 of Gobie's parking tickets. Attempts to expel or censure Frank failed; instead the House voted 408-18 to reprimand him. This condemnation was not reflected in Frank's district, where he won reelection in 1990 with 66 percent of the vote, and has won by larger margins ever since.
In 2004, a survey of Capitol Hill staffers published in Washingtonian magazine gave Frank the title of the most intelligent Democratic member of the House of Representatives. In the same survey he was also listed as the funniest member of the house.
- Moderate Republicans are reverse Houdinis. They tie themselves up in knots and then tell you they can't do anything because they're tied up in knots. -- quoted by E.J. Dionne in the Washington Post, November 16, 2004
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