Nevada Senator John Ensign announced on
Thursday his resignation from the Senate, the AP reported.
The two-term Republican who opposes gay
rights, including giving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry,
acknowledged in June, 2009 that he had a nine-month affair in 2008
with Cynthia “Cindy” Hampton, a former member of his Senate
campaign staff. He also admitted having helped her husband, Doug
Hampton, a member of his Congressional staff, get lobbying work.
The 53-year-old Ensign, who was
considered a rising star of the GOP and possible presidential
material, is under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee.
Ensign, however, didn't admit to any
wrongdoing – “I didn't break any of the ethics rules. I didn't
break any of the laws. I didn't do any of those things” – in
announcing his departure.
“I just came to the conclusion that I
couldn't put my family through it,” he said.
In 2004, Ensign urged Congress to pass
a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, saying “Marriage
is the cornerstone on which our society was founded.”
Ensign also chided Idaho Senator Larry
Craig after his arrest in a Minneapolis men's room for lewd behavior.
He called Craig a “disgrace,” and called on him to resign.
Craig served the remainder of his term but never admitted being gay.
But while Ensign scores a zero on the
Human Rights Campaign's Congressional Scorecard, a measure of a
lawmaker's support for gay rights, his likely replacement, GOP Rep.
Dean Heller, won't improve Nevada's score. He also received a zero.