Power: The Straight Scoop on Thirty-Five Gay Power Players
“BOSTON MARRIAGE,” A TERM ONCE RESERVED for 19th-century female roommates (“Are they or aren’t they?” was hardly a proper Victorian query), came out of the closet a year ago this month. That’s when same-sex couples lined up at city halls from Provincetown to Pittsfield to reap the matrimonial benefits of the historic Goodridge v. the Department of Public Health decision allowing them to legally unite.
The ruling by the state Supreme Judicial Court sent respective waves of joy and indignation across the country. It also raised the profiles of some increasingly powerful members of the gay and lesbian community — most notably lawyer Mary Bonauto, who represented the Goodridge plaintiffs. Then, in a widely overlooked but wildly successful operation in November, gays devoted considerable cash and labor to the election of sympathetic state legislative candidates who will determine the fate of a constitutional amendment that would reverse the right to same-sex marriage and replace it with a system of civil unions. The Democrats backed by powerful gays not only beat back a well-financed challenge by Republican candidates pushed by Governor Mitt Romney (who opposes same-sex marriage and decried the state Supreme Judicial Court decision); they actually gained three seats in the House and Senate over the Republicans. Gays 2, Romney 0.
Of course, to so radically alter a state’s legal landscape is to be powerful. But assuming that the only gay power players in town are the people leading the push for same-sex marriage is like assuming Elton John is the only gay man composing for Broadway. The gay community’s influence here reaches far and wide, so we have, too, setting out to introduce you to some of the openly gay (we’re not outing anybody) people wielding influence in every sphere.
You already know some of our listees. Number 30, for instance, has been visiting your living room every night for years. Some, including number 26, have been included for the powerful role they play within, or on behalf of, the gay and lesbian community — and at least one (number 21) in spite of the effort he puts into distancing himself from it. — Susanna Baird
1. Jarrett Barrios
The first openly gay Hispanic elected to any state Senate in the country, Barrios is pushing bills protecting cell-phone users, potential victims of gang intimidation, and everyone in between. And enjoying his first year of marriage (see number 23). And raising two children. And considering a run for attorney general.
2. Mitchell Adams
Executive Director, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative
Innovation guru and former state revenue commissioner Adams brought acclaim to his Republican Harvard-college-buddy Weld’s administration, implementing new, award-winning tax-processing systems and cracking down on deadbeat dads. When Weld delivered the homily at Adams’s wedding in June to Kevin Smith, Massachusetts politicos from the left and right were spilling into the aisles.
3. Barney Frank
Frank became the first member of Congress to come out, which he did in a 1987 interview with the Globe. A dedicated Bush-whacker, after 24 years in office he is the ranking member of the Financial Services Committee and a devoted champion of liberal causes.
4. John Auerbach
Executive Director, Boston Public Health Commission
Under Auerbach, the oldest health department in the country created the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgendered Health Office, fought (and fights) an upswing in heroin abuse, and oversaw the statewide smoking ban. And speaking of society weddings, Auerbach married Atlantic senior editor Corby Kummer (number 32) in November.