OGUNQUIT — Barney Frank and Jim Ready spent their honeymoon here at their home tucked on a wooded hillside, with the tourist-filled village churning below and a sliver of the Atlantic gleaming in the distance.

Frank married his longtime partner on Saturday in Newton, Mass., securing a spot in history as the first sitting congressman to legally marry a same-sex partner.

They spent Sunday and Monday at their modest bungalow, hanging out with friends and strolling to Bessie’s for breakfast, before Frank returned to Washington on Monday evening.

“This is the one place where Barney can relax,” Ready said at their home Monday morning. “There was no sense in going anywhere else.”

The couple’s decision to marry, on the threshold of Frank’s retirement after 31 years as a U.S. representative from Massachusetts, holds special meaning for many in this gay-friendly town as Maine prepares for another referendum on legalizing same-sex marriage.

John Cavaretta and Randal Coulton, who own the Village Food Market and the Cornerstone Restaurant on Main Street, were among several Mainers who attended Saturday’s ceremony, officiated by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

Cavaretta and Coulton have been business and life partners for 34 years, and wear matching gold bands that they exchanged during an unofficial commitment ceremony. Seeing their friends pledge their love in a legal wedding on Saturday fueled their hope that Maine voters will approve gay marriage in November.

“We’re waiting for Maine,” said Cavaretta, 61. “The wedding was wonderful. Randy and I would do anything to have the same opportunity.”

Cavaretta said the marriage identifies Frank and Ready as a committed couple who are more than partners. It’s an important distinction, he said, because most people have more respect for married couples.

“It’s a huge thing,” Cavaretta said. “It’s historic. I’m sure there are other people in Congress who are sitting in the closet, wishing they could be open like Barney, but life can be difficult if you have to hide who you are.”

Nearly 360 people attended the wedding ceremony held near the Charles River, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Sen. John Kerry and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine and her husband, S. Donald Sussman.

Pingree and Sussman are major advocates for same-sex marriage; he contributed more than $500,000 to the 2009 campaign to allow gay marriage in Maine. Sussman is the majority share owner of MaineToday Media, which includes The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville.

“I think it’s great that so many influential people were there to recognize their union,” said Kathy Cammarota, owner of Roberto’s Restaurant on Shore Road. “We look forward to welcoming Barney and Jim as a married couple into our community.”

Ready, 42, is a Massachusetts native who has lived in Ogunquit for 18 years. He’s a surfer and a snowboarder who was drawn to Maine’s beaches and mountains. He makes custom awnings for businesses.

Frank, 72, grew up in New Jersey and began his political career in the Massachusetts Legislature. He and Ready met at a fundraiser in 2005 and started dating in 2007, after the death of Ready’s former partner.

Since then, Ready has been seen regularly around the nation’s capital and Frank has become a fixture in Ogunquit.

“I think the majority of people in town think it’s great that they got married,” said Jake Bader, 34, an artist and musician who once waited tables at Hooch & Holly’s with Ready. “They love each other. To each his own.”

Saturday’s wedding was a step forward for many in Ogunquit’s gay community, including David Giarusso Jr., 44, and Carlos Perez Jr., 29. They have been business and life partners for 11 years. Giarusso owns Angelina’s Ristorante on Main Street, and they both own Pizza Napoli next door.

“We’re turning a chapter and everyone’s moving on with their lives,” Perez said. “I think it’s great. They’ve been together a long time.”

Giarusso said, “I feel if two people want to get married, they should be able to get married.”

After Frank retires in December, he and Ready plan to divide their time between Maine and Massachusetts, where Frank may teach at a university. Frank graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and he has taught at several schools in the Boston area.

Frank also plans to lecture widely and appear as a news commentator, but he won’t work as a consultant or serve on corporate boards.

“I’m basically going to run my mouth for money,” Frank said Monday, wearing a casual T-shirt, faded jeans and a diamond-studded, tungsten wedding band that matches the one on Ready’s hand.

Frank said he has hired an agent and plans to write two books, one about the future of liberal politics and one about the gay-rights movement. In 1987 Frank became the first congressman to voluntarily identify himself as being gay.

He says he plans to be active in this year’s campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in Maine. Voters will decide Nov. 6.

Frank and Ready say they didn’t get married solely to make a statement, but they recognize the power of their action.

“We did it because we’re in love and we want to be with each other,” Frank said. “Until recently, I never believed it would be possible for me.”

In returning to Congress today as a legally wedded man with a husband, Frank said, he knows that some of his colleagues still believe he shouldn’t have the right to marry.

“I believe the best way to defeat prejudice is to expose it to reality,” Frank said. “Jim and I will be there, and no one else’s marriage is going to dissolve in our presence.”

 

Washington Bureau Chief Kevin Miller contributed to this report.

 

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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