His last session of Congress behind him, retirement from public office only days away, Jim Kolbe has finally found his voice — or at least cleared his throat. The gay Republican from Arizona granted a few farewell interviews before he steps down after more than two decades in Congress, to be replaced fittingly by a Democrat.
So with absolutely nothing left at stake, no political capital to lose, Kolbe finally took baby steps toward righting two long-standing wrongs: He admitted he was wrong to vote in favor of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, and for the first time I’m aware of, he came out in favor of gay marriage.
Unfortunately, Kolbe’s timidity on gay marriage, DOMA and immigration reform aren’t the only things tarnishing his two decades in Congress. The Mark Foley scandal stuck to Kolbe as well, since it turns out one of Kolbe’s former pages asked the Arizona congressman to help convince Foley to stop contacting him. Both interviews touch on the subject, though he told the Blade only that he was happy the House ethics committee concluded no rules were broken. He doesn’t mention that the House report largely lets him off the hook because he is retiring from Congress and thereby escaping the committee’s jurisdiction.
It didn’t have to be this way, of course. But as with Foley and other closeted politicians, Kolbe is in many ways a product of his generation. His departure leaves gay Republicans with no out representatives in Congress, and we can only hope that whoever follows in their footsteps will do so with greater integrity.
Read the whole thing! Chris has much more about the Kolbe-Foley Page Scandal connections and the lingering questions.