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.”
Information Regarding Openly Gay and Lesbian Members of Congress
- Barney Frank is the second openly gay American to serve in the U.S. Congress, coming out while in office in 1987. (The late Rep. Gerry Studds, D-Mass., came out publicly while serving in office prior to Frank.)
- Just seven openly gay or lesbian Americans have ever served in the U.S. House, and none have served in the Senate.
- Only three non-incumbent, openly gay or lesbian candidates have been elected to Congress (Rep. Tammy Baldwin in 1998; Rep. Jared Polis in 2008; Rep. David Cicilline in 2010).
- When Barney Frank came out in 1987, fewer than 50 openly LGBT Americans were serving in public office at any level of government in the U.S. Today more than 500 are.
- The Victory Fund has already endorsed three non-incumbent, openly gay candidates in 2012 Congressional races, including: Wisconsin State Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-2); Mark Takano (CA-41); Washington State Rep. Marko Liias (WA-1). It has also endorsed the reelection bids of Rep. Jared Polis (CO-2) and Rep. David Cicilline (RI-1). Victory has also endorsed Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., in her bid for the U.S. Senate.