My Neice Married On Same Day As Barney Frank Weds Gay Partner
My niece, Katrina Anne Pfaff, was married to Adam Taylor Lapham on July 7, 2012, the same day that Congressman Barney Frank married his partner Jim Ready.
I was very heartened, as a strong proponent of gay marriage, by the classy way Frank and his partner conducted themselves in the media during the weeks leading up to their happy occasion.
My Mom was always fond of placing events such as family weddings with some other famous couple being wed. She spoke countless times of the fact that Queen Elizabeth was married to Prince Phillip only a few weeks prior to my parent’s wedding in 1947. I am glad that my niece will have such a historic memory too.
I must say, however, looking at the news from each wedding that Frank’s nuptials scored the A-team for guests.
Mr. Frank, 72, and Mr. Ready, 42, were married in Newton, Mass., part of Mr. Frank’s district, on Saturday in a low-key ceremony on the banks of the Charles River. Gov. Deval L. Patrick of Massachusetts officiated. The guests included Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, as well as Senator John Kerry and Representatives Dennis J. Kucinich and Steny H. Hoyer.
And in vows written by the couple, Mr. Frank and Mr. Ready pledged to love each other “on MSNBC or on Fox” and “in Congress or in retirement,” a reference to Mr. Frank’s decision not to seek another term.
In October 2005, Mr. Ready — a carpenter and welder who specializes in awnings and runs a small shop, Jim of Most Trades, in Ogunquit, Me. — had been dragged to a local fund-raiser by his longtime partner, Robert Palmer, who knew Mr. Frank from his days as an adviser to former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis.
At the time, Mr. Ready was acting as a full-time caretaker: Mr. Palmer had been struggling with serious illness, and both men knew that he was dying.
The meeting that night was not entirely coincidental. Mr. Palmer “wanted someone to be there for me,” Mr. Ready said. “He was looking for somebody to look out for me when he was gone.” After meeting Mr. Frank, he recalled his partner saying: “He could take care of you.”
The congressman, for his part, was deeply affected by Mr. Ready’s devotion.
“I had never really seen that up close between two guys before,” Mr. Frank said. “I was envious in some ways of what Bob and he had.” He remembered thinking, “I could have the same wonderful relationship with this great man.”
The two struck up a friendship, but Mr. Ready felt guilty spending more than a few hours away from his partner. Mr. Palmer died in January 2007.
“I called, and he was distraught,” Mr. Frank said. He flew to Maine to console Mr. Ready.
Their dinners turned into dates. “I was really just drawn to him,” Mr. Ready said. “It was platonic, but I didn’t want it to be.”
Still, it soon became clear that dating a congressman was not like dating other men. Mr. Frank had just been appointed chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, where he played a central role in creating legislation to increase transparency in financial markets.
Weekends in Maine turned into Washington sleepovers, with Mr. Ready eating takeout outside a conference room as Mr. Frank hammered out a bank bailout with figures like Henry Paulson Jr., then the Treasury secretary.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill said they began to see changes in their usually cantankerous colleague. “I should’ve known you were here,” said one leading House Republican after bumping into Mr. Ready in a hallway. “Barney was nice to me today.”
Mr. Ready, who surfs and skis, can be blunt with his partner, nagging Mr. Frank about taking better care of himself. On days they are apart, they watch sitcoms together while talking on the phone.
They had long discussions about marriage; Mr. Frank wanted to be married while still serving in Washington. Mr. Ready was worried about the public scrutiny. But he remembered how he felt in high school in Tewksbury, Mass., when Mr. Frank came out publicly.
“The kids that are going to see us, and feel strong enough to be able to come out and be who they are. That gives me more encouragement that I’m doing the right thing,” he said.
Their wedding bands were made of black diamonds set in tungsten, a metal used in welding. Mr. Ready picked the material. “It helps keep me grounded, after going to lunch with the president,” he said.
The bridegrooms planned to wear tuxedos by Joseph Abboud, which Mr. Frank noted is a union shop.
Ms. Pelosi said at the reception on Saturday that it was appropriate that a landmark same-sex wedding take place around the Fourth of July. “It’s about expanding freedom,” she said. “This opportunity was a long time coming.”