Republican state Sen. Roy Ashburn of Bakersfield has taken leave from his elected position until at least Monday, after his arrest on suspicion of drunken driving here started a firestorm over his sexual orientation.
Ashburn, 55, has served in the Legislature since 1996 and consistently has voted against bills that would expand legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Californians. The single father of four is among lawmakers with the staunchest records against those issues.
Ashburn was arrested and booked into Sacramento County jail on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol just after 2 a.m. Wednesday and a local television station cited unnamed sources in reporting that Ashburn had spent the evening at Faces, a large gay dance club a few blocks from where police stopped him. Ashburn was driving his state-issued vehicle.
I love it when “unnamed sources” are used but somehow in this case I’m going to believe the unnamed sources.
There has been no confirmation of Ashburn being at the club that night, which drew large crowds for a Miss Gay Latina, Sacramento, competition. But, three sources have told The Chronicle that they have seen Ashburn regularly at gay clubs and bars near Faces. Capitol staffers say it is an open secret that Ashburn frequently visits Sacramento’s gay establishments.
One person who said he has seen Ashburn out on several occasions is Christopher Cabaldon, the mayor of West Sacramento, who came out as gay while in office in 2006. Cabaldon said he has seen Ashburn at Badlands and The Depot, two gay establishments across the street from Faces, on multiple occasions and as recently as in the past few months.
“From my own experience I totally understand the fear and issues of being out in politics,” said Cabaldon, adding that he did not know Ashburn’s sexual orientation.
But, he said, “The hypocrisy – that’s what’s problematic. The notion that you think it’s OK to live in the community and expect that you’re going to be safe and protected when you are, during the day time, doing everything to deny those protections.”
I’m having trouble with the hypocrisy as well. It has been very problematic for me especially in the last three years. Although as a gay woman it is just part of my life.
Ashburn could not be reached for comment. His staff said they have not had contact with him since the day before the arrest, although the office did release a statement from the senator regarding his arrest that read: “I am deeply sorry for my actions and offer no excuse for my poor judgment. I accept complete responsibility for my conduct and am prepared to accept the consequences for what I did.”
In 2004, a reporter with Bakersfield Californian asked Ashburn directly about his sexual orientation and the senator said only, “I’m surprised you’re asking that,” according to the newspaper. A columnist there asked him again last year and he said, “I think there are certain subjects that are simply not relevant and this is one of them. It has no bearing on the job I do.”
This next part won’t surpise you at all.
Ashburn has voted against bills establishing same-sex marriage, banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in businesses and strengthening anti-bullying and harassment protections for gay kids in public schools. Equality California, the state’s leading gay rights lobbying organization, has consistently given Ashburn a zero percent rating in its annual scorecard of lawmakers’ votes on gay rights. Geoff Kors, the executive director of Equality California, said Ashburn has “one of the worst records of anyone in the Legislature” on expanding rights for LGBT people.
“It’s sad for him on a personal level and it’s frustrating that someone who is clearly comfortable with gay people would vote against the very rights of the people he associates with,” Kors said. He said the organization had requested multiple meetings with Ashburn to discuss legislation but always had been turned down.
Now let’s hear from one of my favorite groups the Log Cabin Republicans.
Charles Moran, spokesman for the Log Cabin Republicans, a national gay Republican organization, said it is common for conservatives who are not out about their sexual orientation to vote against expanding gay rights.
“A lot of people who are closeted homosexuals think it will give them cover, but instead it increases the heat,” Moran said.
He said Ashburn needs to “be honest with his family first and his constituents about what is going on. It’s not a crime that he was at a gay bar. The scandal will continue as long as he continues to be dodgy about personal aspects of his life.”
It’s not a crime now. Vote the fucking hypocrits out of office.
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