Sen Roy Ashburn (R) apparently realized he had drunkenly stumbled out of the closet Tuesday night when he was nabbed for drunk driving while leaving a gay bar. The notoriously anti-gay senator has decided that he likes not being confined and is now openly proclaiming his love taboo which apparently drips of hypocrisy only if you are not him.
During an interview this morning with Bakersfield's KERN radio, Ashburn acknowledged he is gay, saying the public deserved to know what happened that fateful Tuesday night when the California Highway Patrol pulled him over.
"I have been arrested for driving and drinking and I hope that I do pay the consequence for that in the same manner that anyone would," he says. "It's wrong, it's very dangerous behavior."
But one thing he's not flinching on: his voting record. While voting to affirm Prop 8 and refuse to recognize gay marriages from outside the state, Ashburn says he was only voting the will of his constituents. Which is the most reasonable excuse he has — but it's still not a rationalization. Because voting for discrimination (or against its removal) is never okay, no matter what you think voters believe.
This is, however, a very curious situation. Other anti-gay lawmakers exposed as gay have continued to deny they are anything but straight (see: Larry Craig), which allows them to, hilariously, stand by their anti-gay voting record. But here we have a state senator saying very clearly that he's one of us, and yet he voted against his own people.
And now the other shoe drops: He's married divorced(?) and the father of four children. Is this family destined for the Ted Haggard scenario, or Jim McGreevey?
(NB: Ashburn cannot run again for re-election because of term limits.)
ON HIDING HIS SEXUALITY
I've always believed I could keep my personal life personal, and my public life public. But through my own actions I have made my personal life public. And I owe explanation to my constituents and to the people who have been so kind to me through the years.
I am gay. Those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long. But I am gay, but it is something that is personal and I don't believe — I felt with my heart being gay … did not effect, would not effect how I do my job. What happened through my own actions the other night changed all that.
ON HIS VOTING RECORD
My votes reflect the wishes of the people in my district. And I have always felt that my faith and allegiance was to the people there in the district, my constituents. So as each of these individual measure came before the legislature, I cast "no" votes. … I cherish the fact that we have a remarkable system of government, and that system of government provides for representatives elected by the people to go to the legislative bodies, whether it be Washington D.C. or Sacramento, and cast votes on behalf of the people, not my own point of view, not my own internal conflict, certainly to use my best judgment, but to vote as my constituents would have me vote. There's never been a doubt in my mind on the position of the vast majority of the people in my district, the 18th senatorial district, on these different issues. I voted as I felt I should on behalf of the people who elected me.
ON WHETHER CRITICISM FROM THE GAYS SAYING HE'S A HYPOCRITE WILL CHANGE THE WAY HE VOTES
I believe firmly that my responsibility is to my constituents. On each measure that may come before me, I will take a careful look at it, and apply that standard: How would my constituents vote on this?
WHY DID HE FEEL THE NEED TO COME OUT?
Because my own actions the other night, resulting in a DUI arrest, point to, Where was I?, What was the behavior I was engaged in?, those aspects that I thought was my personal life, Obviously that changes the circumstance, so I felt it best to just let people know.
I would ask people to pray for me.
WILL HE LIVE AS AN OPENLY GAY MAN?
I pray to God that I can find peace, and I want to go back to work in the Senate.
WAS ALL THIS PART OF THE REASON HE DECIDED NOT TO RUN FOR CONGRESS?
TO HIS CONSTITUENTS
I appreciate you. I believe that it's an amazing responsibility and privilege to represent you in Sacramento. Now you know everything about me. I will do the very best job that I can to represent you as faithfully and with as much dignity and honor as I can.
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