Late Arizona GOP Rep. Jim Kolbe: Always Against the Grain

When Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., announced in August 1996 that he was gay — a revelation that would have been akin to signing a political suicide note for an elected Republican not too many years before — most who knew him simply shrugged and went on.

Kolbe, who died this weekend at 80, had always been for civil rights for gay Americans, but he had signaled he would vote for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), to ban the federal government from overriding state laws that enshrined marriage as a union between man and woman.

This was vintage Jim Kolbe — always seemingly against the grain. He was a gay man, a supporter of gay rights, but yet he believed the states should have the last word on determining just what marriage was.

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