A Republican State Senator with a history of opposing gay rights was arrested and charged with drunk driving early Wednesday morning, reportedly after leaving a gay bar downtown. Senator Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield) failed a field sobriety test and was taken into custody. He was in the car with an unidentified male passenger. Ashburn is a long time opponent of same sex marriage. In 2005 he joined Rev. Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition at a rally to support traditional marriage. He even issued a statement saying, in part, "We need to preserve traidtional values for the future of our children. Children must be raised with morals and principles." According to Project Vote Smart, Ashburn has a perfect record voting against gay rights legislation, including a "no" vote against a resolution opposing Prop. 8. Ashburn offered an apology for his arrest, but made no mention of reports he'd been at a gay bar.
MARCH 8TH UPDATE: Senator Ashburn acknowledged he was gay today on a radio program in Bakersfield. "I'm gay," Ashburn told KERN radio host Inga Barks in an interview. "Those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long." When asked why he voted against his own interests for so many years, he said: "My votes reflect the wishes of the people in my district. I have always felt that my faith and allegiance was to the people, there, in the district, my constituents. And so as each of these individual measures came before the Legislature I cast 'no' votes, usually 'no' votes, because the measures were . . . almost always acknowledging rights or assigning identification to homosexual persons."