Former Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe, a Republican, is set to marry his partner in a ceremony Saturday in the District of Columbia.

Kolbe and Hector Alfonso, a Panama native, will exchange vows after 8 years together.

“Two decades ago, I could not have imagined such an event as this would be possible,” Kolbe told gay weekly the Washington Blade. “A decade ago I could not imagine that I would find someone I could be compatible with that I would want to spend the rest of my life with that person. So, this is a very joyous day for both of us.”

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 couples.

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 Alfonso.

“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.”

Alfonso has since secured an investment visa that allows him to legally remain in the United States.