Kolbe says Republicans lost control of Congress because of emphasis on gay marriage, abortion, stem-cell research and other social issues
TUCSON, Ariz. Former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., said a river-rafting trip he took at the Grand Canyon with two former congressional pages in 1996 was “completely aboveboard,” and “a terrific exercise for 12 people over three days.”
Kolbe, who spoke to the Arizona Daily Star before leaving office, also repeated his earlier denial that he had ever read a sexually explicit message written to one of his former pages by then-Rep. Mark Foley of Florida, who resigned this fall. The former page had forwarded the message to Kolbe in 2001, a House ethics report on the Foley scandal recently concluded.
“The page urged us to “‘Please ask Foley to stop,’” Kolbe said. “We did that. The messages stopped coming.”
He would not discuss the page issue further.
Kolbe, who spent 22 years in Congress, noted that Republicans lost control of Congress in part because of their emphasis on gay marriage, abortion, stem-cell research and other social issues.
He said the American public got tired of watching the Republican party neglect its basic principles, such as fiscal discipline, smaller government and a strong national defense.
He said gay marriage or civil unions will be widespread in this country in a decade or two because it is a fundamental human right that people should be able to legally celebrate the commitment of relationships.
“Friends of mine in New York have been together for 45 to 50 years,” Kolbe said. “Shouldn’t we celebrate that?”
However, Kolbe said he didn’t regret his 1996 vote in favor of the Def
ense of Marriage Act, which allows states to refuse recognition of gay marriages approved in other states. His vote on that bill prompted a gay-oriented magazine to prepare an article outing him as a homosexual, which led Kolbe to publicly declare that he is gay.
“I could make a very good argument that marriage belongs in the hands of the state,” he said. “I don’t think that should be changed.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, January 5, 2007.