State Senator Roy Ashburn, the
California GOP lawmaker with a long anti-gay record recently forced
to admit he's gay, says he's “sorry” for voting against gay
Speaking with the Bakersfield
Californian, Ashburn said: “I'm sorry for that.”
On Thursday, he spoke for the first
time on gay issues on the state Senate floor.
Saying that before his coming out he
“would not have been speaking on a measure dealing with sexual
orientation ever,” Ashburn added that he was “no longer willing
or able to remain silent on issues that affect sexual orientation.”
The 56-year-old Republican's sexuality
came under close scrutiny after details of a March 3 drunk-driving
arrest were made public, including the fact that he was traveling
with a male companion after leaving a popular Sacramento gay bar.
After evading the press for five days,
the conservative lawmaker and father of four told talk show host Inga
Banks: “I am gay.” Social conservatives immediately asked for
Ashburn's resignation, while Republicans gave the termed-out
Bakersfield lawmaker a pass.
In the Senate, however, Ashburn split
his votes on gay issues, rejecting a bill sponsored by openly gay
Senator Mark Leno that exempts clergy from performing civil marriages
that counter his or her own faith, but voting in favor of a
resolution urging Congress to repeal “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the
law that bans gay troops from serving openly. Both measures were
approved by the chamber.
Ashburn told the paper he was
comfortable with being openly gay.
“I outed myself, I really did,” he
said. “I was drinking and doing riskier and riskier things.”
He also said saddling his children with
his secret was the most painful part of his charade: “I was so
used to lying and hiding who I was, it didn't even occur to me what a
horrible burden that was for young teenagers.”