Gay Republican State Senator Speaks Out

Republican lawmaker speaks passionately in favor of gay rights during a Legislative session on Thursday, two months after admitting that he was gay.

By Julie Brayton
|  Thursday, May 27, 2010  |  Updated 6:45 PM PDT
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A Republican <a title=California state lawmaker spoke out passionately in favor of Gay Rights during a legislative session on Thursday, two months after admitting he was gay." />

KNBC-TV

A Republican California state lawmaker spoke out passionately in favor of Gay Rights during a legislative session on Thursday, two months after admitting he was gay.

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Republican State Senator Roy Ashburn, a political conservative from the Central Valley, was the only GOP vote in Sacramento on Thursday in favor of a resolution demanding an end to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in the U.S. military.

For him, the issue was clear.

"Since the time of Julius Caesar, there have been gay people in the military, and it's time to end the practice of requiring people to conceal who they are," said Ashburn, R-Bakersfield.

Which is exactly what Ashburn admits he has done throughout his 14-year career in the legislature.

A deception that ended earlier this year when Ashburn was arrested for drunk driving after having visited a gay nightclub.

The divorced father of four later admitted something he had kept from his constituents and colleagues -- that he was gay.

On Thursday in a remarkably candid interview, Ashburn, who had long been a no vote on gay rights legislation, called himself a hypocrite.

"My practice in my entire political career when it came to gay issues was to prevent any kind of spotlight from being shined my way, because I was in hiding. So casting any kind of vote might, could in some way, lead to my secret being revealed," he said.

"That was terrifying to me. It was paralyzing. So I cast some votes that have denied gay people of their basic, equal treatment under the law, and I'm not proud of it. I'm not going to do that again," Ashburn said.

Ashburn goes on to say that being gay has nothing to do with his view of public policy. He is for limited government and individual freedom.

He says his Republican colleagues have been supportive.

As for his constituents in Bakersfield, he's not seeking re-election this year. He's being termed out of office.

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