A Republican state senator from California with perfect record for voting against gay rights, acknowledged Monday that he was gay.
“I am gay,” said state Sen. Roy Ashburn of Bakersfield, breaking his silence on a conservative AM talk-radio show. “Those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long.”
The admission follows days of intense scrutiny and ended mounting speculation that began last week when Ashburn was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving on March 3.
A Sacramento television station reported that Ashburn was at a popular gay dance club that night and several people have said they have seen the senator at gay bars in the city.
Ashburn’s sexual orientation is at issue because he has one of the staunchest records of voting against bills that would expand rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Californians.
He defended his voting record, saying he cast votes that his constituents wanted.
“I felt my duty — and I still feel this way — is to represent my constituents, not my own point of view, not my own internal conflict,” Ashburn told KERN Radio host Inga Barks.
Geoff Kors, Executive Director of Equality California, said Monday that he hopes the senator’s revelation will lead him to change his voting patterns.
“Equality California looks forward to working with the Senator to use his experience to educate the people in his district on why he deserves the same rights and privileges as a gay man as any other Californian,” Kors said in a statement.
Ashburn said he does not plan to run for any public office after his term ends this year.