Former out congressman Jim Kolbe passes away at 80

Jim Kolbe in 2010. Wikimedia Commons

Jim Kolbe, one of the first out gay U.S. representatives, passed away Saturday at the age of 80.

Born in Illinois, Kolbe grew up in Arizona and represented the Tucson area until 2006. He was outed after he voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. Other than that vote he was a reliably moderate Republican who was pro-choice. He also voted against a 2004 amendment to ban federal recognition of marriage equality and again in 2006.

The Associated Press reported that Kolbe repeatedly co-sponsored a bill to scrap the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on homosexuality. He sat on the national advisory board of the Log Cabin Republicans.

He left the Republican party in 2018 because of Trump and endorsed Joe Biden in 2020.

He’s survived by his husband Hector Alfonso.

“He belongs to so many people,” Alfonso was quoted as saying Saturday by the Arizona Daily Star. “He gave his life for this city. He loved Tucson, he loved Arizona.”