Politics & Government

California Sen. Ashburn says anti-gay voting record reflects constituents' wishes

In the end, Sen. Roy Ashburn said he decided he owed his constituents an explanation.

He went on a radio show first thing Monday morning to talk about his sexual orientation.

Then the Bakersfield Republican returned to the state Senate floor, where colleagues greeted him with handshakes and hugs.

"I'm gay. Those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long," Ashburn, 55, told KERN conservative radio host Inga Barks.

Ashburn, who has voted consistently against gay-rights measures, last week refused to address reports that he was at a gay bar in Sacramento before his 2 a.m. arrest Wednesday for driving under the influence.

He told Barks he previously saw no reason for residents of his district to know details of his personal life.

But following his arrest, bloggers and public figures began openly discussing his visits to gay bars in Sacramento. He decided over the weekend to discuss the issue publicly.

"I felt with my heart that being gay did not affect, would not affect, how I do my job," Ashburn said on the radio. "Again, what happened through my own actions the other night changed all that."

Senate GOP leader Dennis Hollingsworth of Murrieta, a social conservative, spoke with Ashburn in the Senate. Hollingsworth did not return calls for comment, and Ashburn left the floor without talking to reporters.

On the radio, Ashburn, the divorced father of four, defended being secretly gay while voting against gay-rights proposals.

He said he voted the way he believed most constituents wanted him to vote.

To read the complete article, visit www.sacbee.com.

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