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Jim Kolbe to Retire

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 7:49 pm - November 23, 2005.
Filed under: National Politics

Over at Malcontent, Robbie reports that Jim Kolbe, the only openly gay Republican in Congress is stepping down.

When I lived in D.C., I knew Jim and socialized with him on occasion. I once even wrote a speech for him on free trade. Jim is a good man and a loyal Republican. He did a great job representing the citizens of Arizona’s Eighth District for over twenty years. Since his first election in 1984, he has won all but once of his races with at least 60% of the vote.

Even after coming out as a gay man, he continued to champion issues the same issues that he had championed before he came out — particularly free trade. If he wanted to be remembered as anything, it would be as the man who broke down trade barriers between nations. I remember how his eyes would light up as he talked about a hemisphere-wide free trade zone. As he retires, while he has not yet seen that goal realized, he should be proud that he helped secure the passage this year of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), one of the most significant accomplishments of this Congress.

His departure will be a great loss to the Republican caucus and to the House. Even with his success and prominence, Jim remained a down-to-earth guy. Decent and hard-working, Jim is as eager to promote Republican principles as he is to describe the beauty of the Arizona desert near his Tucson home.

While Jim would surely rather be remembered for championing free trade than for being an openly gay Republican, he provides a good example for all gay Republicans. When he came out, he continued to promote Republican principles of small government and open markets. By and large, his sexuality remained incidental to his service.

I’m sure that, in his retirement, Jim will continue to remain active, speaking out on free trade and exploring the Arizona desert. While his retirement represents a loss to the public policy process, his service remains an inspiration to us all. We wish him well in all his future endeavors.

-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com

When Will HRC Start Confronting Democrats?

As we have frequently pointed out on this blog, while HRC (the Human Rights Campaign) claims to be a “bipartisan organization,” it rarely, if ever, criticizes Democratic politicians. At the same time, its leaders regularly issue releases and statements attacking Republicans and conservatives. For example, HRC President Joe Solmonese took California Governor Schwarzenegger to task for vetoing legislation recognizing same-sex marriage in the Golden State, yet he and his associates use kid gloves when dealing with Democratic legislators in states across the nation who have voted for legislation codifying the traditional definition of marriage (one man to one woman).

Because of HRC’s readiness to attack Republicans for any hint of anti-gay sentiment and genrally leaves Democrats alone, it has become increasingly apparent that this group styles itself more as the gay and lesbian branch of a broad “progressive” movement than as a group committed to developing a bipartisan approach to gay and lesbian issues.

Troubled by HRC’s failure to take issue with Democrats who support the (Federal Marriage Amendment) FMA, a reader from Minnesota wrote to Solmonese to ask how he handles such Democrats. The reader shared the e-mail with me and I reprint it with permission:

What are you doing to confront Democratic Federal Marriage Amendment Supporters….. People like Stephanie Herseth (SD), Colin Peterson (MN) and Elwyn Tinklenberg (MN)?

The DCCC advised two Minnesota congressional candidates – Teresa Daly and Elwyn Tinklenberg to support anti-gay legislation (the FMA in the case of Tinklenberg) and the court stripping bill in the case of Daly.

When HRC starts confronting both Democrats and Republicans who promote anti-gay policies, rather than being a front group for the DNC/DCCC/DSCC, I will rejoin the organization.

We’re not the only ones who have noticed that HRC only seems to have problems with Republicans who oppose same-sex marriage. After all, this is the group which refused in 1996 to rescind its endorsement of then-President Clinton when, in the dead of the night, he signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) into law.