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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 4, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 23
Ashburn speaks out on Gay rights
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Ashburn speaks out on Gay rights

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

Republican State Senator Roy Ashburn, a political conservative from Bakersfield, California, was the only GOP vote in favor of a resolution demanding an end to the DADT policy in the U.S. military.

Ashburn was forced out of the closet last March after being arrested for a DUI on his way home from a Gay nightclub.

Ashburn voted on two separate bills; he voted in favor of lifting the Gay military ban, but voted against a bill that could remove a political obstacle to proposals to legalize same-sex marriage.

In an unusual step, Ashburn publicly explained his votes on the Senate floor. "I would not have been speaking on a measure dealing with sexual orientation ever prior to the events that have transpired in my life over the last three months," Ashburn, a divorced father of four, told his colleagues. "However, I am no longer willing or able to remain silent on issues that affect sexual orientation and the rights of individuals."

He said his past votes reflect his constituents' votes, but said Thursday, "The public supports allowing openly Gay people to serve in the military."

The resolution passed the state Senate 24-7.

Ashburn said that being Gay does not affect one's ability to serve in the military. "The current policy of DADT is clearly out of date and discriminatory. 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," he said.

Ashburn voted No on a measure that would have clarified that a clergy member would not be required to perform civil marriages that contradict his or her faith. "This proposal occurs on top of the vote of the people on Proposition 8 and on the litigation that ensued and that the very likely event that marriage will be back on the ballot," he said. "I think that creates a confusing, untenable situation that is not helpful on this whole issue."

On May 27, following his Senate floor vote, Ashburn, who had long been a No vote on all 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 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 their basic, equal treatment under the law, and I'm not proud of it. I'm not going to do that again," said Ashburn.

Ashburn says that being Gay has nothing to do with his views on public policy. He states that he is for limited government and individual freedom.

Ashburn is not seeking re-election this year; he's being termed out of office.

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