California State Senator Roy Ashburn
says he voted against his own best interests because he was
“terrified" of being outed.
In an op-ed
appearing Tuesday on the website GayPolitics.com, which is run by
the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a group that supports openly gay
elected officials, Ashburn urged Republicans to back gay rights.
“It's time for fair-minded
Republicans to speak up for what our party really stands for –
individual freedom and limited government,” Ashburn wrote. “If
we truly believe the greatness of America is founded on the
individual achievements of ordinary citizens acting with the maximum
amount of personal liberty, then there should be no debate over where
Republicans stand on the rights of LGBT Americans.
The Bakersfield 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.
Ashburn's tenure in the California
Legislature includes numerous votes against gay rights bills.
“I chose to conceal who I truly am
and to then actually vote against the best interests of people like
me,” he said. “All this was done because I was afraid –
terrified, really – that somehow I would be revealed as gay.”
The 56-year-old single father of four
added that he's “no longer willing, nor able, to remain silent in
the face of unequal and hurtful treatment of my community.”