A tsunami is blowing around the deepening scandal concerning rabidly homophobic California Republican State Senator Roy Ashburn, arrested last week as he was leaving a Sacramento gay men’s bar on charges of Driving Under the Influence.
Ashburn, 55, was arrested and booked into the Sacramento County Jail just after 2 a.m. March 3. Reports cited sources who said Ashburn had been drinking all night at Faces, a popular gay dance club located just a few blocks from where police pulled him over.
The lawmaker, elected to the California legislature in 1996, has consistently voted against bills that would expand legal protections for LGBT individuals. The divorced father of four is among legislators with perfect or near-perfect records voting against equal protections for gays and lesbians.
Said Geoff Kors, spokesman for Equality California, the conservative Republican has “one of the worst records of anyone in the Legislature.” He has voted against bills to establish same-sex marriage, banning discrimination based upon sexual orientation or gender identity, and to toughen anti-harassment protections for LGBT youths in the state’s schools.
“It’s frustrating that someone who is CLEARLY comfortable with gay people would vote against the very rights of the people he associates with,” added Kors.
Staffers employed by California’s legislature say it’s an open secret the GOP lawmaker frequently visits Sacramento’s gay night spots.
Among those speaking on the record is Christopher Cabaldon, the openly gay Mayor of West Sacramento, who says he has seen Ashburn out on several occasions, including within the past couple of months.
“The hypocrisy—that’s what’s problematic,” Cabaldon told the San Francisco Chronicle. “The notion that you think it’s ok to live in the community and expect that you’re going to be safe and protected when you are, during the daytime, doing everything to deny those protections.”
Still, Cabaldon, who came out of the closet in 2006 while in office, is sympathetic. “From my own experience I totally understand the fear and issues of being out in politics,” he said.
Cabaldon says he does not know Ashburn’s sexual orientation.
Asked by a reporter in 2004 if he was gay, Ashburn replied, “I’m surprised you’re asking that.”
Asked again in 2009 by a columnist with the Bakersfield Californian, Ashburn was coy. “I think there are certain subjects that are simply not relevant and this is one of them. It has no bearing on the job I do.”
Following Ashburn’s arrest, the as-yet unidentified male who was in the car with him—referred to at the time by police only as “not a lawmaker”—was released.
After his release on $1,400 bond, the anti-gay crusader told reporters: “I am deeply sorry for my actions and offer no excuse for my poor judgment.” He remained evasive on the issue of his sexuality.
Ashford, who was the subject last year of a recall drive, remains on a self-imposed personal leave at least through today.