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Jim Kolbe, Republican Congressman Who Came Out as Gay, Dies at 80

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Jim Kolbe, a longtime Republican congressman who came out as gay in 1996 and was reelected several times afterward, died Saturday at age 80.The cause of death was a stroke, the Arizona Daily Star reports.

Kolbe represented a district centered on Tucson in the U.S. House for 11 terms. He was first elected in 1984, and in 2006 he decided not to run again.His coming-out was spurred by outrage over his vote in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal government recognition of same-sex marriages and allowed states to deny recognition to such marriages performed in other states.

DOMA was passed and signed into law, but it has since been invalidated by the Supreme Court.Several news outlets began looking into Kolbe’s sexual orientation, The Advocate among them.

The Advocate maintained its policy against outing but did contact Kolbe to ask him to explain his DOMA vote and to see if he would discuss being gay.

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