California state Sen. Roy Ashburn spoke on the floor Thursday about legislation affecting the gay community for the first time since revealing his own sexual orientation in March.
Ashburn, a Bakersfield Republican, voted for a measure asking the federal government to dump the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gays in the military. He voted against a similar bill in the past, but now says the current policy is "clearly out of date and discriminatory."
"Being gay or straight has nothing to do with ability, devotion, courage, honor, skill and loyalty — the characteristics that I think we would all agree are desirable and necessary for those who serve in our national military," he said. "My values say that government should be limited, that government has no business in the private lives of our citizens and that government should never ever be the sponsor of discrimination."
To lobby his Republican colleagues to vote for the bill, Ashburn borrowed from conservative Barry Goldwater to convince those "seeking comfort that Republicans should vote to end discrimination against lesbians and gays in the military."
"Lifting the ban on gays in the military isn't exactly nothing, but it's pretty damn close," he added.
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