Associated Press photo
This is the booking photo of Repugnican California state Sen. Roy Ashburn, who was arrested in the wee hours of March 3 for driving while under the influence of alcohol. He reportedly was seen leaving a Sacramento gay bar that is within easy walking distance of my residence, interestingly enough. The 55-year-old Ashburn is a divorced father of four, and an (*ahem*) unidentified man was with him in the state vehicle he was driving when the California Highway Patrol arrested him for DUI. Today, after speculation about his sexual orientation, Ashburn came out as gay, despite his consistent anti-gay legislative record.
Republican [California state] Sen. Roy Ashburn, who has been on leave from the [state] Senate since his DUI arrest last week, confirmed today that he is gay.
“I’m gay,” Ashburn told KERN radio host Inga Barks in an interview this morning. “Those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long.”
Ashburn’s announcement follows reports that Ashburn was leaving a gay club before he was arrested for driving under the influence last week.
The Bakersfield Republican, who has consistently voted against gay-rights measures, said his votes were a reflection of how the majority of voters in his conservative district would have wanted him to vote.
Ashburn, who is divorced, has been on personal leave in the Senate since last week’s arrest. He is expected to return today.
Better late than never to come out of the closet, and better to come out in better circumstances than Ashburn did, but I must admit that I love the way that he apparently came out like Ellen did. However, I can’t accept his rationale that he just voted the way that his constituents wanted him to vote.
If constituents who don’t like their state senator can dump that senator at the ballot box, why can’t senators dump their constituents by leaving office or maybe moving to a different legislative district or maybe changing parties?
As a legislator, I think that I’d have to vote my conscience — not my constituents’ ignorance and bigotry.
The Bee also published a column on Ashburn titled “How Much of Sen. Ashburn’s Life Is Our Business?”
Not to ruin it for you, but the columnist correctly concludes that because Ashburn as a state senator consistently has voted against equal human and civil rights for non-heterosexuals, the fact that he is gay does matter. Ashburn is not just some private citizen whose sexual orientation randomly was made public.
West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, who came out four years ago at age 40 (and whom I’m pretty sure I saw at the gym once…), is quoted in the column as having said: “I have a lot of sympathy for Ashburn, but I wasn’t trying to lead a double life. I just wasn’t talking about it. I was supportive of our rights and equality. I wasn’t persecuting by day and partying by night.”
“Persecuting by day and partying by night” — I love that line.
Yes, especially when an elected official is working against equal human and civil rights for non-heterosexuals, the fact that he or she is not heterosexual is quite relevant. Not only to us non-heterosexuals, but, dare I say it: sadly and perversely, it is relevant to those haters whom he or she represents.
I, for one, wouldn’t want to represent a constituency consisting of a majority who hate me for not being heterosexual.