Barney Frank served as a US Congressman from 1981-2013 and Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee from 2007-2011. While in Congress, Frank worked to adjust America’s spending priorities to reduce the deficit by providing less funding for the military, thereby protecting funding for important quality-of-life needs at home. In particular, he focused on providing aid to local communities and to building and preserving affordable rental housing for low-income people. He was also a leader in the fight against discrimination of various sorts. He championed the interests of the poor, the underprivileged, and the vulnerable, and he won reelection 16 times by double-digit margins.
As Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Frank was instrumental in crafting the short-term $700 billion rescue plan in response to the mortgage crisis, and he then worked for the adoption of a sweeping set of financial regulations aimed at preventing a recurrence. He was co-author of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the regulatory overhaul signed into law in July 2010. He also led passage of the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act, a measure that drew praise from editorial boards and consumer advocates.
In 1987 he became the first Member of Congress voluntarily acknowledge that he is gay, and in 2012 became the first Member of Congress to marry his same-sex partner, James Ready.
In 2014 a documentary titled Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank was released. In the film, Frank gives a rare and intimate peek into the life of Barney Frank as a quick-witted, cantankerous, and first openly gay Congressman in the United States. On the verge of his retirement, Frank reflects on his 40 years in office and the role his own homosexuality played in his campaigns for social justice. An unvarnished example of when the personal meets the political, with incredible “bare all” access, this documentary reveals Frank as one of the most sharp-tongued, entertaining, and lionhearted politicians of our time.
In addition, he has written two books: Speaking Frankly, in 1992, a critique of some aspects of the Democrats approach to public policy; and a political memoir published in 2015 titled Frank: From the Great Society to Same Sex Marriage. He has taught at Harvard, Boston University, the University of Massachusetts Boston, and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.Download Bio
FrankA Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage is one man's account of the country's transformation--and the tale of a truly momentous career. In this feisty and often moving memoir, Frank candidly discusses the satisfactions, fears, and grudges that come with elected office. He recalls the emotional toll of living in the closet and how his public crusade against homophobia conflicted with his private accommodation of it. Through it all, he expertly analyzes the gifts a successful politician must bring to the job, and how even Congress can be made to work.
Financial Reform: As chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Frank was instrumental in crafting some of the most sweeping financial reform laws in history, including the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the regulatory overhaul signed into law in July 2010. With his trademark skill at getting quickly to the heart of complex issues, Frank offers unique insight into the financial crisis, the current path we're on, and what we can expect going forward.
The Gay Rights Movement: As the nation's first Congressman to voluntarily come out as openly gay and the first to be in a same sex marriage while in office, Barney Frank has been at the forefront of the gay rights movement. Frank has been a central figure in every gay rights battle that has taken place in the history of the U.S. Congress, and was instrumental in several important victories, including the abolition of the anti-gay provision of U.S. Immigration Law; the abolition of the rule that denied LGBT people security clearance; the enactment of a fully-inclusive hate crimes bill for LGBT people; and the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell.” Either by himself or with his husband, James Ready, Frank illuminates the arc of the gay rights movement and shares what's ahead for LGBT issues.
Tackling the Deficit: Barney Frank has consistently been one of the strongest voices in Congress for reducing America's excessive military spending to allow deficit reduction to proceed in a socially responsible way. In the past two years, in the arguments he has been making about the wisdom of a reduced worldwide American military presence, he has been one of the leaders in this debate. He will be continuing these efforts as a private citizen.
America and Israel: Barney Frank has been a staunch advocate of an American policy that fully supports Israel's right to remain a free, secure, Jewish democratic state. He has also made the point that criticism of the particular policies of the government in Israel at any one time is in no way inconsistent with that, and he has in fact been among the leaders of liberals who have articulated this position - of full support for Israel's right to exist, with an independent perspective on Israeli policies. He has been a critic of the settlement policy, and a strong supporter of the Israeli domestic policies on the rights of women, religious freedom, the rights of LGBT people and other policies that sharply differentiate Israel from all of its neighbors.
Frank talks Congress, the financial crash, and the Wizard of Oz with the Atlantic.
Get the scoop on a recent documentary chronicling Barney’s life.
Barney sits down with NPR to speak on his journey from closeted, to an openly gay member of Congress.
Check out a recent profile on Barney from the New Yorker.
Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage is reviewed in the Atlantic.
Follow Barney Frank on Twitter.
-University of Arizona
"Barney was great! He was pleasant to work with and his speech was well-received. He was candid, open to comment and questions from the audience and delivered a very informative speech. I was surprised how candid he was. I truly enjoyed working with him."
-Private Equity Interntaional