WATCH: Barney Frank on coming out

Via ThinkProgress, above is a clip of Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., talking about his decision to come out as gay in 1987, during a press conference today where he announced that he won’t seek re-election next year. According to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, Frank was the second openly gay person to serve in Congress. The first was Rep. Gerry Studds, D-Mass., who came out in 1983 while in office. Via Pam’s House Blend, below is the full written statement sent out by Frank’s office today:

I will not be a candidate for reelection to the House of Representatives in 2012.

I began to think about retirement last year, as we were completing passage of the financial reform bill. I have enjoyed—indeed been enormously honored—by the chance to represent others in Congress and the State Legislature, but there are other things I hope to do before my career ends. Specifically, I have for several years been thinking about writing, and while there are people who are able to combine serious writing with full-time jobs, my susceptibility to distraction when faced with a blank screen makes that impossible.

In 2010, after the bill was signed into law, I had tentatively decided to make this my last term. The end of next year will mark 40 years during which time I have held elected office and a period of 45 years since I first went to work in government full time as an aide to Mayor Kevin White in late 1967.

But with the election of a conservative majority in the House, I decided that my commitment to the public policies for which I have fought for 45 years required me to run for one more term. I was—and am—concerned about right-wing assaults on the financial reform bill, especially since we are now in a very critical period when the bill is in the process of implementation. In addition, recognizing that there is a need for us to do long-term deficit reduction, I was—and am—determined to do everything possible to make sure that substantial reduction in our excessive overseas military commitments forms a significant part of the savings over the next 10 years.

—  John Wright

Rick Perry and gay soldiers (with audio)

Al Baldasaro

Texas Gov. Rick Perry hasn’t commented on the incident involving a gay soldier who was booed during the last Republican presidential debate. But one of Perry’s prominent supporters in New Hampshire certainly has.

Perry backer and New Hampshire State Rep. Alfred Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, told ThinkProgress on Friday that he was “disgusted” by the gay soldier, Stephen Hill, who submitted a question to the debate via YouTube about “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Baldasaro went on to say that “it was great” when members of the audience booed Hill. Here’s a full transcript from Scott Keyes at ThinkProgress:

KEYES: What did you make of that moment in the debate when they had the gay marine asking a question and there were a few in the audience who were booing him?

BALDASARO: I was so disgusted over that gay marine coming out, because when he came out of the closet. Bob won’t say it because they’re scared to get in trouble, but their brothers and sisters – brothers especially- that are there, they’ll start getting away from him. They’ll start ignoring him. He doesn’t realize it, but when the shit hits the fan, you want your brothers covering your back, not looking at your back.

KEYES: Did you have an issue with the audience reaction?

BALDASARO: Oh no, I thought the audience, when they booed the marine, I thought it was great.

On Tuesday, Baldasaro told the Union Leader that he stands behind his comments. But Baldasaro now claims he didn’t mean he was disgusted by the fact that Hill is gay, but rather by the fact that he appeared during a political event in an Army T-shirt. Baldasaro also stressed that he wasn’t speaking for Perry, adding that he was “speaking for myself as an American with a First Amendment right to free speech.”

Baldasaro also criticized reporters who’ve been covering his comments. “I wish they’d spend more time on jobs and the economy than what Al Baldasaro said,” he said. “They’re all looking for a story to make money for their papers.”

The Union Leader notes that four of the GOP presidential candidates — Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson and Herman Cain – have condemned the booing of the gay soldier.

Although Perry’s campaign hasn’t commented on the incident, the governor has previously addressed the subject of gay soldiers.

The day Perry signed Texas’ constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2005, the governor was asked what he would tell gay veterans returning from Iraq.

“Texans have made a decision about marriage, and if there is some other state that has a more lenient view than Texas, then maybe that’s a better place for them to live,” Perry responded.

Listen to audio of Baldasaro’s comments below.

—  John Wright

WATCH: The DOMA debate 15 years before Sen. Cornyn skipped Wednesday’s hearing on repeal

Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Judiciary Committee, skipped Wednesday’s hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act.

ThinkProgress has posted the below compilation of some of the hateful comments made on the House floor during debate of the Defense of Marriage Act before it was passed in 1996. The point is to highlight the sea change that has taken place in America since then on LGBT equality and same-sex marriage — which is underscored by the reluctance among Republicans today to use it as a wedge issue. On Wednesday, ThinkProgress notes, only two Republican senators showed up for the committee hearing on the repeal of DOMA, and only one spoke up against the Respect for Marriage Act.  One of those who spoke in support of DOMA 15 years ago, as shown in the video, was Texas Congressman Tom DeLay, then the GOP whip, who warned that “attacks on the institution of marriage will only take us further down the road of social deterioration.” Fast forward to Wednesday, when one of the GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who didn’t show up for the hearing was Texas’ John Cornyn, who once suggested in the draft of a speech that same-sex marriage would lead to man-box turtle marriage. Things have indeed changed, even in Texas.

—  John Wright