Jim Kolbe, Republican Ex-Congressman, Wants LGBT Couples Covered in Immigration Reform

A Republican testified before a Senate committee Monday to call the "Gang of Eight" immigration bill an "excellent starting point," but said he feels that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families were left out of the proposed legislation.

No, this isn't the The Onion.

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It's southern Arizona's former Republican Congressman Jim Kolbe who appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify on the bill.

"I know firsthand from my days of representing my district in Arizona that immigration laws impact all of our lives," Kolbe said (the only Republican-sounding thing he said). "I also know, as the partner of a Panamanian immigrant, how especially difficult it can be to build a life and protect your family under our current cumbersome system. While the bill you are considering is an excellent starting point for reform, I submit to you that it is still incomplete. Families like mine are left behind as part of this proposal. Equally important, U.S. businesses and our economy suffer because of the omission of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [LGBT] families from the bill introduced last week."

Kolbe was pretty pathetic in his support for the LGBT community back when he was in Congress, and in case you haven't noticed, the LGBT issues still aren't exactly a hit with the Republican Party.

Still, Kolbe was testifying before the committee Monday about how his "partner and future husband," Hector Alfonso, had to go back to Panama when his work visa expired, and Kolbe was powerless in helping him stay here. He cited examples of how LGBT families get screwed over because they don't get the same immigration benefits as same-sex couples.

Kolbe's pushing support of the Uniting American Families Act, which would give "permanent partners" to U.S. citizens and permanent residents the ability to become permanent residents themselves, just like spouses of citizens can currently do.

Kolbe's trying to get this tossed in with the "Gang of Eight" immigration-reform bill, and as you can imagine, the current Republican field doesn't seem very receptive of the idea.

Politico reports that Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham "have said that adding same-sex couples to the bill would endanger their willingness to support it."

The video of Kolbe's testimony can be seen below:

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley