How do you justify, especially as a gay man, supporting the Defense of Marriage Act? Is there honestly a valid argument for denying gay and lesbian couples the same privileges of marriage afforded to straight couples?
Rep. Jim Kolbe at 1:57pm ET
My vote on the Defense of Marriage Act was cast because of my view that states should be allowed to make that decision, about whether or not they would recognize gay marriages. Certainly, I belive that states should have the right, as Vermont did, to provide for protections for such unions.
Robin from proxy.aol.com at 1:58pm ET
Do you have any concerns about Dick Cheney being too conservative... especially in the gay rights sequence? Thank you.
Rep. Jim Kolbe at 1:58pm ET
No, I think Dick Cheney's personality is such that he is just not a man of rigid ideological points of view. He's a very reasonable individual, and I think his experience certainly makes him an ideal for candidate for vice president.
Rick at 1:59pm ET
Congressman Barney Frank has been very visible, speaking on behalf of gay issues. Why have you maintained such a low profile in Congress regarding your orientation and gay issues?
Rep. Jim Kolbe at 2:00pm ET
I wouldn't say that I have maintained a low profile, but a different profile. I led the fight among my Republican colleagues in the House to defeat an amendment offered by one of my colleagues that would have prevented a presidential executive order on nondiscrimination in the federal workforce from being implemented.
The fact is that over the years that I have been in Congress, I have worked on trade, on Social Security and on spending and budget issues as chairman of one of the major appropriations subcommittees. That was the case before I came out, and it remains true today. Those are the issues I have focused on and will continue to focus on.
Daniel C.K. Sproull from idsonline.com at 2:01pm ET
I am thrilled to see an openly gay congressman addressing the RNC. While you opposed gay marriage by voting for the Defense of Marriage Act, would you support civil unions of homosexuals?
Rep. Jim Kolbe at 2:01pm ET
Yes. I support legal protections for people who have a gay or lesbian union.
Moderator at 2:02pm ET
Tom Hermance writes: Congressman, I congratulate you for your honest visibility. As a gay man, why should I vote for a conservative Republican who can easily undo the small protections that our community has worked so hard to achieve?
Rep. Jim Kolbe at 2:03pm ET
The Republican philosophy strongly promotes both individual responsibility and individual freedom. It is because of this philosophy that I have remained a Republican, even though I may not agree with some of the positions taken by the party. We need to bring the Republican party around to a more open and accepting position. You can't do that if you turn your back on the Republican Party.
Jeff Card from capitalone.com at 2:03pm ET
What do you make of Lynne Cheney's comments Sunday to Cokie Roberts about her daughter Mary? I applaud Gov. Bush for his willingness to accept the "risk" that goes with the issue, but at some point (sooner rather than later), isn't somebody going to have to step forward and say, "Yeah, she's gay — get over it."?
Rep. Jim Kolbe at 2:04pm ET
I think I would agree with Jeff that they simply need to acknowledge the matter and move on.
Moderator at 2:04pm ET
Congressman Kolbe, what do you want people to take away from your speech tonight? How do you think it will be received?
Rep. Jim Kolbe at 2:05pm ET
I hope people will take away from the speech an understanding that Republicans support trade because they believe that it is about economic freedom. This economic freedom means that people have choices — more goods, more choices and lower prices. That's why trade is an important political issue, as well as an economic issue about creating jobs.
As far as how it will be received, we'll just have to wait and see the response.
Moderator at 2:06pm ET
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