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US congressman has historic same-sex marriage

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Democratic Representative Barney Frank has wed his longtime partner, James Ready, becoming the first sitting US congressman to enter into a same-sex marriage.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick officiated the ceremony on Sunday and added some levity by saying Frank, 72, and Ready, 42, had vowed to love each other through Democratic and Republican administrations alike.

"Barney was beaming," said Al Green, a Democratic congressman from Texas who attended the ceremony.

He added that Frank, a champion of gay rights and the sweeping reform of Wall Street, shed a tear during the ceremony.

After exchanging their vows, Frank and Ready embraced each other, Green said.

"It was no different than any other wedding I've attended when you have two people who are in love with each other," Green said.

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 US 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's office in January announced he would marry Ready, whom he met at a political fundraiser in Ready's home state of Maine. Ready lives in Ogunquit, where he does carpentry, painting and welding work. Frank and Ready have been involved since 2007.

The evening wedding took place at the Boston Marriott Newton in suburban Boston, attracting political luminaries, including Nancy Pelosi, top Democrat in the US House of Representatives, and Elizabeth Warren, who is battling Republican Scott Brown for his US Senate seat in Massachusetts.

Congressional career

Frank, who first won a seat in congress in 1980, has said he will retire at the end of the current term.

Besides championing financial reform and the rights of fishermen, Frank has been a vocal supporter of gay rights, which have been gathering support in public opinion polls and US high courts.

In May, for example, a federal appeals court in Boston ruled that a US 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, 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 public support of gay marriage is rising.

In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the country where same-sex couples could be legally married.

More than 18,000 same-sex couples have wed in Massachusetts since then.


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