Transcript: Jim Kolbe on Republicans and gays
Arizona Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe became the second openly gay Republican Congressman when he came out in 1996 (fearing a gay magazine was about to out him after his vote for the Defense of Marriage Act). He spoke to the Star after a brief speech to the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay conservative group, in Tampa on Monday.
A transcript of his Star interview:
Q: You talked optimistically about how a generational shift is going to make the party more accepting of gay people. Are you okay with how the party is now?
Kolbe: Of course not. Why would - how could I possibly say that? No. I want them to change. I want them to change faster. Which is why I keep pushing, and staying in, being active. But it is changing. I can remember, and this isn't that long ago, the year that I came out as a Republican [laughs] - as a gay person. (Coming out as a Republican is a lot harder in the gay community than coming out as a gay person.) The year I came out, in 1996, the presidential candidate, Bob Dole, returned a contribution from the Log Cabin Republicans. That would never happen today. Today they not only welcome their contributions, they welcome their help, they welcome them into the inner circles of the campaigns. So this is totally different. It's changing very rapidly, dramatically. It's just a generational thing. Another generation and this is not gonna be an issue. I'm also old enough to remember when it was against the law in, I guess, 26 states for a black person to marry a white person. You say that to a 15-year-old today, they would look at you and say, "Are you crazy?" And the day will come when your kids will say - my partner is Hector - they'll say, "You mean it was against the law for Uncle Hector and Uncle Jim to be married, once?"
Q: When you did come out, what response did you get from people you served with in Congress?
Kolbe: Either completely positive, or silence. Most people didn't say much of anything. I attribute that, in some cases, to people who were not approving but didn't want to say anything. So they continued to work with me and treat me fine professionally. In the case of others, I think it was just an awkwardness of not knowing how to go about talking about it. But I never had any negative response from anybody.
Q: How do you feel about Mitt Romney?
Kolbe: Well, on this issue, I wish he would go further. But I believe in my heart of hearts that Mitt Romney is not anti-gay, I don't think he's homophobic at all, and I think with his family will move this thing forward. But I strongly support Mitt Romney for all the other reasons I alluded to, which are the economic reasons, the foreign policy reasons.