Monday July 09, 2012 | 03:41 PM

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree and her husband, S. Donald Sussman, were on hand this past weekend to witness the first wedding of a sitting member of Congress to his same-sex partner.

Pingree and Sussman, both of whom are vocal advocates for same-sex marriage, were among the 300 or so guests invited to the private wedding ceremony between U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Newton, and his longtime partner, Ogunquit resident Jim Ready.

Frank and Ready were married in Newton, Mass., on Saturday during a ceremony officiated by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Pingree estimated that about 20 other members of Congress – including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – were also in attendance.

“She and Donald went and had a lovely time,” Pingree’s spokesman, Willy Ritch, said on Monday. “She said there were a lot of people from Washington and a lot of people from Maine there.”

Both Pingree and Sussman are well-known in Maine circles advocating for allowing gay couples to wed.

A billionaire hedge fund manager who is a major donor to progressive and Democratic causes, Sussman contributed more than $500,000 to the 2009 campaign to allow same-sex marriage in Maine.

Sussman is the majority share owner of MaineToday Media, which owns The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, the Morning Sentinel in Waterville and other media outlets in Maine.

Pingree was active in the 2009 referendum on the issue and has already spoken on the floor of the U.S. House in support of the this year’s effort to make Maine the first state to use the ballot box to legalize same-sex marriage. 

Frank, 72, was the first openly gay member of Congress.

“They have a close personal friendship and a close professional relationship,” Ritch said of Pingree and Frank.

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Open Season is your guide to the 2014 campaign. Our team of political writers has its sights set on Maine’s major elections, from the Blaine House to the U.S. Capitol.

Steve Mistler is covering the 2014 governor's race. He covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.
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Kevin Miller is covering Maine's U.S. Senate race and 1st Congressional District race. He covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald.
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