Businessman and politician James Thomas Kolbe (Jim Kolbe) represented the Republican Party in the US House of Representatives. Between 1985 and 2003, he served as the representative for Arizona’s 5th congressional district, and from 2003 to 2007 for its 8th.
Jim Kolbe, a Republican congressman who supported homosexual rights and served for more than two decades as a representative of a predominantly Democratic area of Arizona, has passed away. He was 80.
When Kolbe was five years old, his family moved to a ranch in rural Santa Cruz County, Arizona. Kolbe was born in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. After three years working as Barry Goldwater’s United States Senate Page, he graduated from the United States Capitol Page School in 1960. He attended Patagonia Union High School and Patagonia Elementary School.
Jim earned his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and his master’s degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, where he was a member of the fraternity Acacia. He was a member of the American Navy and spent a year in the riverine “Swift Boat” force in Vietnam.
From 1977 to 1992, Kolbe was wed to Sarah Dinham, a University of Arizona professor of educational psychology. Kolbe came out as gay in August 1996 after some gay rights activists tried to out him as a result of his vote in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act.
In that year, he was elected again. He made history in 2000 by being the first openly gay speaker at the Republican National Convention, though he avoided discussing gay rights in his remarks. After Steve Gunderson of Wisconsin, he was the second openly gay Republican to hold office.
Hector Alfonso and Kolbe were wed in 2013.
Kolbe contributed to an amicus curiae brief that was submitted to the US in that year.