Jim Kolbe

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Jim Kolbe (R) was a member of the U.S. House from 1985-2006. Jim has moderated his views over the years. In 1996, after he voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, the Advocate magazine ran a story on his being a closeted homosexual. Jim chose to come out before the article could hit the newstands. His sexual orientation was generally accepted by the party and he has won several terms since, although in 2004 he had a far-right primary challenger who is out to get him due to his amnesty proposals and opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment. In spite of aggressive attacks and a well-funded opponent in Randy Graf, his toughest primary opponent in over a decade, Kolbe won a fairly comfortable 57%-43% victory over Graf in a year when many other moderate Arizona Republicans were thrown out of office.

He retired from Congress in 2006.

Jim tries his best to not be pigeonholed as being a gay congressman, speaking out only against litigation that he cannot abide (such as working with Barney Frank to defeat the 1999 House attempt to repeal Bill Clinton's executive order banning discrimination against federal gay and lesbian employees), or helping to convince Congress to allow employees to have domestic partner benefits. As a goodwill gesture to gay and gay-friendly Republicans, the party asked Kolbe to speak at the 2000 National Convention, possibly the high point for gay rights in the history of the Republican Party. Although he only spoke about free interational trade, never once mentioning his private life, a large number of disagreeing delegated turned their backs, prayed, and waved signs on the convention floor in silent protest.

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