Congressman Gerry Studds Remembered in Boston

Studds4Tribute was paid to former Massachusetts congressman Gerry Studds at a memorial service in Boston attended by 300 people including his longtime partner Dean Hara (right) and his colleagues Barney Frank and Ted Kennedy.

Studds, who became the first openly gay member of congress after it was discovered that he was having a consensual relationship with a 17-year-old page, died on October 14th after being hospitalized for a blood clot.

Barney Frank, who came out four years after Studds, made note of the page incident in a speech at the memorial. Said Frank: “The important thing about what Gerry did was the reaction to it. And the reaction to it was that there was no reaction. [Gerry] helped Americans understand that they really aren’t homophobic, they just thought they were supposed to be.”

While in Congress, Studds fought for gay rights, marriage, and AIDS issues as well as marine protection environmental programs. His post-congressional work as a lobbyist for the fishing industry did not go unnoticed. The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, located at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay, was named for Studds when he retired from Congress to recognize the work he had done on behalf of marine issues.

Ted Kennedy noted this in his eulogy: “His love for the Cape was obvious to all of us and constantly inspiring. One of his finest achievements was persuading Congress to start paying close attention to the health of our oceans.”

The occasion of Studds’ death was one of the first times that a governement official’s spouse was noted in his obituary as “husband” rather than partner, boyfriend, longtime companion, or friend. However, it also drew attention to the inequities gay people face concerning pension benefits, as Hara, partnered with Studds for 15 years, was unable to receive the federal pension benefits offered to heterosexual spouses of deceased government officials.

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You may have missed…
Former Massachusetts Rep. Gerry Studds Dies at 69; Was First Openly Gay Person Elected to Congress [tr]
Gerry Studds’ Husband Shut Out of Federal Pension Benefits [tr]


  1. Anon says

    Frank’s comments are rich: it’s homophobic to criticize men for having sex with underage boys? It’s amazing what pols will say when they feel “safe”.

  2. tjc says

    And so it begins. Here in Boston, there’s some local loony right-wing blog that’s trying to make hay by saying the page was underage and Studds is being lauded for “statutory rape.”

    Repeat after me: The page was not underage. If you’d like a rhyming meter, how about, “the page on the stage was not underage.” There was no statutory rape.

    The issue w/ what Studds did was that of a boss/employee power dynamic, not that both parties had penises.

    And Studds did so much good in his life.

  3. CH says

    And, just to get the facts right, he wasn’t having the affair at the time of the investigation and censure but ten years before. By the time of the investigation, the now adult [by anyone’s standards] former page, praised Studds and emphasized that it had been entirely consensual.

  4. shane says

    Uh, didn’t your article on Studds leave out the fact that he committed statutory rape? Tell the whole story, because I sure as hell don’t want people thinking all gay men are pedophiles.

  5. shane says

    Children cannot “consent” to sexual activity with an adult. And if a man sucked my d*ck, I’d probably praise him too.

  6. tjc says

    Shane: no, it’s not.
    17 > age of consent in DC and many other places in the US. To spell it out, Shane, 17 is greater than the age of consent in DC. A 17 year old CAN consent. No statutory rape happened. You’re right that children can’t consent to sexual activity. However, you seem to mistakenly believe that one of the parties was a child. He was not.

    In the US, Age of Consent laws (the ones which define “statutory rape”) are done by the states, not the Federal Government. Your blanket statement that “17 = statutory rape and child molestation in the US” is wrong. It may be correct in some jurisdictions, but it’s irrelevant to the Studds situation.

    Shane: Why would “people think[] all gay men are pedophiles” based on the Studds article? And if you’re suggesting the article’s author should lie by stating a known falsehood (about statutory rape), how does that help your point?

    Or are you just a troll?