September 16, 2010 at 12:40 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Obama appoints gay Republican to trade commission

Jim Kolbe (Blade photo by Michael Key)

The White House on Wednesday announced President Obama’s intent to appoint a gay Republican and former U.S. House member to a presidential committee for trade policy.

Obama plans to appoint Jim Kolbe, who represented Arizona in Congress from 1985 to 2007, to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. The committee is charged with providing policy advice on trade matters.

Kolbe is currently the senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund, a think-tank dedicated to cooperation between North America and Europe. 

In 1996, the former U.S. House member publicly came out as gay following his vote in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Obama named Kolbe to the committee as part of a group of 30 appointees, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).

In a statement, Obama said he’s grateful these appointees “have agreed to lend their talents to this administration” as the country works to boost its exports over the next five years.

“When 95 percent of the world’s customers are beyond our borders, it is crucial that we compete for that business and those jobs,” Obama said. “And we need to do so in a way that is responsible and fair, and that levels the playing field for American workers. I look forward to the wise counsel these individuals will provide on these issues as we work together in the coming months and years.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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