California State Sen. Roy Ashburn, a conservative Republican with a solidly anti-gay voting record, came out as gay today on a Bakersfield radio station talk show. Ashburn’s sexual orientation had been the talk of Sacramento since the legislator was arrested for drunk driving after leaving a gay bar in the state capital last week.
“I am gay. Those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long. It is something that is personal, and I don’t believe I felt with my heart that being gay would affect how I do my job,” Ashburn said.
Asked about his anti-gay voting record, Ashburn said, “I felt my duty, and I still feel this way, is to represent my constituents.”
Radio talk show host Inga Barks wanted assurances that Ashburn would continue to vote in a conservative manner on LGBT rights issues. Ashburn responded, “I believe firmly that my responsibility is to my constituents. I will take a careful look at each measure and apply that standard. How would they vote on this? How would they want me to vote on this,” adding that most people understood what that means.
“I don’t know how else to ask this, but are you going to live this lifestyle now in the district?” Barks asked. Ashburn, who announced he is not running for public office again, said, “I pray to God I can find peace. I want to go back to the senate and work hard for the people of my district…Now you know everything about me.”
Ashburn is in his second and final four-year term in the senate, having first been elected in 2002. He is divorced and the father of four daughters.