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
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
“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.