Tuesday, April 23, 2013

WATCH, READ: Fmr. Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe Testifies On Immigration Reform AND Publicly Announces Wedding; Reform Should Re-Include LGBT Families

Former long-serving Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-CD8) hit a rare double yesterday, testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the comprehensive immigration reform proposal AND publicly announcing his wedding next month to his longtime partner.  However, it was not just a point of personal privilege or a grandstanding ploy, the announcement was central to his testimony.

Kolbe, who spent much of his Congressional career as a closeted gay Republican, met and fell in love with a Panamanian teacher eight years ago in the U.S. on a Fulbright Scholarship.  Kolbe and Hector Alfonso were separated when Alfonso's visa expired and he had to return to Panama - Kolbe could not sponsor to keep him here and they were not legally able to get married.

Kolbe told the committee that he and Alfonso will be married in Washington, D.C. on May 18.  But, he also told the committee that the Unite American Families Act - which he first proposed in 2006 and has been introduced each year by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) - should be included as part of comprehensive immigration reform.  It had initially been suggested that it could be part of the gang of eight's proposal, but Republican members of that group acknowledged that that might hurt its overall political chances.

Kolbe made his argument not only personal, but economic, as well.  Here is the video of his opening statement, with a link to the text here.

Congratulations, Congressman!

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