Amid disappointment over the projected Republican takeover of the U.S. House, good news came for the LGBT community with the re-election of the longest-serving openly gay member of Congress.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) fended off a challenge from his Republican opponent Sean Bielat, a businessman. According to the Boston Globe, Frank won by taking 54 percent of the vote in Massachusetts’ 4th congressional district. In comparison, Bielat took 43 percent of the vote.
Chuck Wolfe, CEO of the Victory Fund, praised Frank’s victory in a statement.
“Barney Frank is nothing if not a fighter, and we’re very happy he will return to the House and continue to fight for the people of Massachusetts and for all LGBT Americans,” Wolfe said. “Nobody has worked harder or longer in the U.S. Congress for fairness and equality for the LGBT community.”
Many in the LGBT community were alarmed when Bielat outperformed Frank in fundraising in September and Frank lent $200,000 of his own money to his campaign.
Frank’s position as chair of the House Financial Services Committee gave him a lead role in moving forward with financial reform legislation and the $700 billion bank bailout plan of 2008, making him an attractive target for conservative forces trying to win control of Congress.
Still, throughout the course of the campaign, Frank was consistently ahead of his opponent in numerous polls — sometimes by double-digits.
A possible win by Bielat also concerned many LGBT people because remarks the candidate made in favor of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
A former Marine, Bielat questioned why gays should think they have a right to servce in the military when short people aren’t permitted to enlist, according to the Boston Herald.
“There’s no absolute right to serve,” Bielat was quoted as saying. “Men under the height of 5 feet, 2 inches can’t serve — I don’t see anybody protesting. Where are the people standing in front of the White House, the short guys standing in front of the White House? You don’t see it.”
The other incumbent gay congressional candidates — Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) — won re-election on Election Day.