Former Arizona Representative Jim
Kolbe, a Republican, on Monday testified in favor of gay-inclusive
Kolbe, 70, came out gay in 1996 under
the threat of being outed by activists angry over his vote in favor
of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prevents federal
agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian
Earlier this year, Kolbe signed on to
an amicus brief calling on the Supreme Court to strike down
California's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8.
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary
Committee, Kolbe discussed being forced to separate for a year from
his fiancee Hector Alfonso, a Panama native.
“Despite being in a committed
relationship and despite the fact that he remained in lawful status
every day he had been here, Hector was forced to return to Panama
when his work visa expired,” Kolbe testified. “Our twelve month
separation, like that of any American from their spouse, was painful.
Hector returned to Panama while he applied for another visa.
Eventually, we accomplished this, but it was a long process and it
was expensive – far beyond the reach of most families.”
“On May 18th – just a
month from now – Hector and I will legally marry here in the
District of Columbia, surrounded by family and friends. We are
immensely fortunate that Hector has now secured an investment visa
that allows him to remain here with me. Many other couples, however,
are not as fortunate. Even if they, like us, have a marriage, civil
union or life-long commitment to each other, their ability to secure
a permanent solution that would allow them to build a home, family or
business together is elusive and difficult to realize. It shouldn't
be that way, and this committee has an opportunity to fix this
problem,” he added.