BOSTON Barney Frank, the 16-term congressman from Massachusetts who was one of the first openly gay figures in U.S. national politics, plans to marry his partner, his office said on Thursday.
Frank, 71, will marry Jim Ready in a ceremony in Massachusetts, capping a nearly five-year relationship. Ready, 42, lives in Maine, where he has a small handyman business and practices photography, Frank's office said.
No other details on the date or location of the wedding were released.
Frank announced in November he would not seek re-election this year. He has been an influential Democratic voice in Congress on financial issues and was the author of U.S. financial reform law.
Frank said decision to retire was provoked by the difficulty of running for re-election in a newly redrawn district and his desire to spend more time writing and teaching. He has told several aides he did not want to die in Congress.
Frank, who publicly acknowledged his homosexuality in 1987, told Reuters in March that he would like to write a history of the gay-rights movement.
Frank's home state of Massachusetts became the first to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004. Since then five other states and Washington, D.C., have followed and the issue remains controversial in much of the country.
Known for his scathing wit and often-rumpled appearance, Frank has been a leading liberal voice in Congress and a favorite target of Republican critics.
Elected to the House of Representatives in 1980, Frank became the Democrats' foremost defender of a landmark financial-regulation overhaul that Republicans and Wall Street groups want to repeal.
President Barack Obama praised Frank at the time for his co-authorship of "the most sweeping financial reform in history" aimed at preventing Wall Street excesses that fueled the 2007-2009 financial crisis and the worst recession in decades.
Republicans have been trying to rescind the so-called Dodd-Frank Act, named after Frank and former Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd, saying it has unduly constricted the financial system when more job-creating investment was needed.
Republicans also have tried to blame Frank for policies that led to the housing bubble through his support for the quasi-government mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
"I have been mislabeled as a big advocate of low-income home ownership over rental. But I was too optimistic about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," Frank told The New York Times Magazine for last Sunday's edition.
(Reporting By Lauren Keiper; Editing by Paul Thomsach and Bill Trott)