Roy Ashburn – the recently out
California GOP lawmaker with a long anti-gay record – was heckled
by gay activists who shouted “We know you're one of us, Roy!” at
an anti-gay marriage rally in 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle
Ashburn's sexuality came under close
scrutiny after the Republican lawmaker was arrested on suspicion of
drunk driving last Wednesday morning in Sacramento. A local
television station reported that an unidentified man was in the car
with Ashburn, who had that night been at Faces, a popular gay bar.
Openly gay West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon said Ashburn
was a regular at gay nightspots throughout the city. After being
freed on a $1,400 bond, Ashburn, 55, issued an apology, then went
On Monday, Ashburn came clean, telling
conservative talk show host Inga Banks: “I am gay.”
“And so, those are the words that
have been so difficult for me for so long,” he added.
The state senator represents
California's 18th district, which includes portions of
Kern, Tulare and San Bernardino Counties. Voters in the district
overwhelmingly voted in favor of Proposition 8, the 2008 initiative
that defined marriage as a heterosexual union in the state's
constitution, effectively trumping a California Supreme Court ruling
legalizing the institution.
Ashburn has defended his anti-gay
record, saying, “I felt my duty, and I still feel this way, is to
represent my constituents,” during Monday's interview.
Republican leaders welcomed Ashburn
back to work on Monday, but social conservatives around the state
have called for his immediate resignation.
“Roy Ashburn should resign,” Randy
Thomasson, president of the Christian-based SaveCalifornia.com, said
in a statement released Tuesday. “His lying, cheating ways have
boiled over and the public's trust has been shattered.”
Ashburn, who is a father of four,
divorced his wife in 2003. Nevertheless, Thomasson listed infidelity
as another reason for calling for his resignation: “He vowed to be
faithful to his wife, then broke his vows when he chose homosexuality
over his marriage.”
While Ashburn's constituents most
likely were in the dark about his sexual orientation, local gay
activists appear to have been fully aware that he was voting against
himself in Sacramento and at least one gay rights opponent says he
had his suspicions about Ashburn as long ago as 2005.
Chad Vegas, a 36-year-old school board
trustee and Bakersfield pastor, told the paper that he witnessed a
dispassionate legislator when Ashburn stood with evangelical leaders
at an anti-gay marriage rally in Bakersfield's Patriot Park.
“Let's just say it was not a great
effort in rallying the troops on Roy's part,” Vegas said.
And then there were those gay activists
standing outside the park shouting, “We know you're one of us,