Republican California State Senator Roy
Ashburn has gone from zero to gay rights hero in less than a year.
The 56-year-old lawmaker who was forced
out of the closet in March received one of the highest scores among
lawmakers – including many Democrats – from Equality California,
the state's largest gay rights advocate.
Last year, the group awarded the
Bakersfield Republican a zero for voting against or abstaining on
every single gay rights bill debated in the chamber. In contrast,
Ashburn supported 12 out of 14 measures included in this year's
ranking and carried
in the Senate a bill that repeals a decades-old gay “cure”
mandate from state code.
Ashburn addressed his abysmal record on
gay rights in an op-ed
appearing on the website GayPolitics.com: “All this was done
because I was afraid – terrified, really – that somehow I would
be revealed as gay.”
That day came when local media reported
on Ashburn's March 3 drunk-driving arrest, which included the fact
that he was traveling with a male companion after leaving a popular
Sacramento gay bar. Within
days, he admitted that he had been living a lie.
The divorced father of four told
in August that he believes gay rights are a conservative issue.
“I would argue that the Republican
party, because of the principles underlying Republicanism, really is
the party that should be championing equal rights for gay people, for
all people. For me this is very clear,” the termed-out lawmaker