CA Sen. Roy Ashburn Voted to Make Your Life Miserable So He Could Hide

California State Sen. Roy Ashburn, the ex-closeted gay drunk with a history of moving against queer Californians, is finally saying he’s sorry for his voting record. Sorry Roy, not good enough.

“My practice in my entire political career when it came to gay issues was to prevent any kind of spotlight from being shined my way, because I was in hiding,” he tells NBC Los Angeles. “So casting any kind of vote might, could in some way, lead to my secret being revealed. That was terrifying to me. It was paralyzing. So I cast some votes that have denied gay people of their basic, equal treatment under the law, and I’m not proud of it. I’m not going to do that again.”

Do you know what that soundbite is? It’s an on the record admission that he violated the oath he swore to when he took office. That he used his position of power to infringe upon the rights of others while serving personal desires. That he committed public service malpractice.

(Ashburn just got done voting for a measure supporting the end of DADT, but did not put his vote behind a bill that would help clarify clergy members do not have to perform civil marriages.)

And that despite every urge we have to give this guy a break, because he is a human, a gay human, and apt to make mistakes — he deserves no sympathy when it comes to what he helped contribute to: a less accepting, more divisive and discriminatory society.

“I’m sorry for that,” he tells the Bakersfield Californian. “In the past, I didn’t want to even vote on a gay rights bill because I didn’t want to bring the spotlight on myself since I had a big secret to keep. Most of the time I would leave the chamber and come back to vote no. I didn’t even know what was in the bills.”

Disgusting. A state lawmaker openly admitting he was willfully ignorant on the bills he was voting on so he could hide his little secret? That he was actively failing his job duties and his responsibility to his constituents so he could hide in the hallways?

He may not run for re-election, but he doesn’t deserve another single day with “Sen.” in front of his name.

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  • Mike in Asheville, nee "in Brooklyn"

    In deed Ashburn is an asswipe undeserving of his political office and undeserving of his generous legislative pension. He has a lot more to do to even think he is even close to making up for his evil self-serving anti-democratic-republic conduct. A coward extraordinaire.

    Perhaps Ashburn will embrace an active role for gay rights. A very active role. Then, and just then, is he deserving of consideration as no longer a cowardice fucktard. Remember, Barney Frank was dragged kicking and screaming, spewing denial after denial, out of the closet (that is until Frank’s boytoy was arrested for selling drugs and sex out of Frank’s DC condo).

    I’ll hold my sympathy for those who remain victims of the anti-gay legislation Ashburn voted into law, including Ashburn’s endorsement of Prop. 8.


    Sorry Assburn: EPIC FAIL If you really don’t support something you find a way to not be present for the vote. Legislators employ that tactic each time a vote comes up they don’t really support. Instead you made sure you were present and voted against anything Gay that you could put your filthy pen to. “Most of the time I would leave the chamber and come back to vote no. I didn’t even know what was in the bills.” If you had any bit of a conscience you would have not gone back into the chamber to cast the NO vote. You caused harm for years, and now that you are exposed for the scumbag you truly are you are and you are being treated like a leper, you are expecting forgiveness??? You might have gotten a sliver of sympathy if you had simply not voted on those matters you knew would cause harm to the Gay community………….

  • samthor

    He didn’t want to be in the spotlight, yet he ran for PUBLIC office? He voted to hurt the gay community and then hung out with them in the bars. What kind of world does this guy live in?
    as far as the “urge” to give this guy a break; mine is well under control.

  • Bill

    Of course, now that Senator Roy Ashburn will be forced to live under the discriminatory laws that he himself helped to enact against LGTB citizens, now he is sorry.

    I have one word for Senator Roy Ashburn:


  • Lamar

    I actually sympathize with him. But to redeem himself to the gay community he should donate to gay charities and campaign for gay rights. That will show if there really is anything solid behind his apology.

  • Joseph Cashman

    @Lamar: I agree, REDEMPTION through action will be his only salvation. Lets hope he goes die-hard the other way now.

  • bryannyc

    Talk about disgusting.

    You’re letting your politics override your compassion to a fellow human being. Really, how are you any different from anti-gay conservatives?

    The closet is horrible and creates terrible choices. People, and not just politicians, do things they aren’t proud of. So how can we expect anyone to come out of the closet if we’re going to rip them apart as they do it?


    @Lamar: Can not see how you can muster up any sympathy for Assburn, see post #2. He could have garnered some sympathy if he didn’t go out of his way to hurt the Gay community. He left the chamber not even caring what the bill entailed, for all he knew it could have mandated rounding up HIV+ persons and locking them up. All he needed to know was the bill would have a negative impact on the Gay community, and he would return to the chamber and automatically vote for it every single time…….

  • randy

    What is good from all this is that our theories are correct — the men who are the most anti-gay are the men who have something to hide. Whether it is Rekers, or Ashburn or Larry Craig — they all want their cake and eat it too.

    If you live in Washington, you meet many people just like him, though. Their first craving is the political spotlight — they want the adoration of the public and to make the news. They have an insatiable appetite for that sort of thing. But then they want privacy too. Most congresspeople are having affairs, or consort with the wrong types, or are beholden to certain interests, and they don’t want that public. So they go out of their way to create smokescreens and diversions to deflect attention from that part of their life. In other words, they are trying very hard to control their image all the while putting it out there for everyone to see.

    Of course, it doesn’t make sense. You will likely be found out sooner or later. But in their mind it does. And for a while it works — how long did Ashburn live like this? Pretty long time. And the gay community even protected him by not outing him!

    If the gay press were smart, it would list the most homophobic political and social leaders (like James Dobson), and the ones that are most ‘traditional family’ supporters, and then tail them. They should get informants, located sources, scout them out 24/7. Eventually, we’ll get the dirt on every one of them.

    I suspect that’s what happened in George Rekers case — someone decided to watch him carefully, or someone tipped off the press. And it did a world of good .

  • Steve

    There’s no point in throwing arrows at him. He has been humiliated, and he won’t be reelected, in the eyes of his conservative district.

    While I cannot condone his past behavior, I can understand why he did it, and I can forgive him for it. Forgiveness is not the same thing as support. He is sick, and should seek counseling — not for being gay, but for hating himself and others like him. He has a lot of ‘processing’ to do, to reconcile his hateful and destructive past.

    There is a possibility that he might choose to do some good in the future. He might work for some gay issues during the remainder of this term. He might explain to other lawmakers why he did such hateful things, and why he was wrong, and perhaps even convince some other closeted senators to stop being so hateful.

    After that, he might do something useful with the rest of his life. Who knows, he might even go into the clergy.


    @randy: 100% Co-Sign. Again, Assburn deserves zero sympathy. He followed his wicked path for decades, and it was only when his vile self hating life was exposed that he “saw the light”. His words ring so hollow it is sickening. He is only appealing to the gays now because he is a pariah among the rightwing anti Gay scum who he stood and voted with every single time. New we are supposed to say, “its Ok”, all the lives your actions ruined don’t matter, all the Gays who lost their jobs, homes, teens tossed out of their homes because of the Anti Gay vile diatrebes spewed out of his and his ilks mouths, it’s Ok?………….Bullshit!

  • richardporter

    One of things I like about gay people is their ability to forgive. Perhaps in time Sen. Ashburn will give us more reason to forgive him.

  • Steve

    @randy: “What is good from all this is that our theories are correct — the men who are the most anti-gay are the men who have something to hide.”

    I suspect that many of the most virulent anti-gay politicians are trying to hide or deny their own same-sex orientation, but perhaps not all of them.

    Some gay organization that has the financial wherewithal could post a “reward” for proof that an elected official who denies being gay and votes against gay issues, is actually gay. The reward could be larger for federal Senators and state Governors, and less for lower officers. Extra rewards could be targeted for states where flipping one or two state Senators could make a big difference in legislation.

    Make sure the (suspected gay) officials know about the reward offers. That knowledge could convince some of them to vote differently, even before any proof comes to light.

  • John (CA)

    I won’t defend Roy Ashburn’s bad behavior. He’s getting exactly what he deserves. This moron was out campaigning hard for Prop. 8 in 2008 because he wanted to ingratiate himself to the loony conservative base for a possible congressional run.

    However, the context is found in the fact that he represents Bakersfield in the legislature. The part of California that we like to call “Texas.” It is full of right-wing rednecks whose life activities consist of high school football, church, and getting bused into other parts of the state for anti-abortion protests. If Tom DeLay and Rick Perry were on the ballot, this is the sort of town that would vote for them in a second.

    In any case, Ashburn can say whatever he wants at this point because his political career is effectively over.

    He is not going to Washington DC.

  • Sean

    Thank you so much for speaking the truth about Ashburn. I am so sick of people whitewashing all that he has done. This guy actively sought out to injure and wound other glbt citizens who didn’t have his power, money, or access. Now he is about to retire on the taxpayer’s dole and he wants forgiveness. This is the same crap that Mark Foley is attempting, only Ashburn is actually worse.

  • Lamar

    @PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS: I agree that what he did was wrong, neither myself or anybody else is trying to condone what he has done. I am only saying that sorry should not be the end of it he should work for forgiveness, something I believe in.

  • B

    No. 3 · samthor wrote, “He voted to hurt the gay community and then hung out with them in the bars. What kind of world does this guy live in?”

    What kind of world? Think Sacramento or Washington. While sometimes attributed to Otto von Bismarck (have also heard it attributed to others), the relevant quote is “Laws are like sausages — it is best not to see them being made.”

    As to QUEERTY’s comment about “public service malpractice,” he’s a state senator. He’s not supposed to have his fingers in the public till, but other than obeying some rules regarding graft and corruption and generally not acting like a criminal, making sensible votes is not a job requirement: whether he holds office or not is up to his constituents, which unfortunately happen to be some of the most “socially conservative” in the state.

    A bit of history might be relevant. In the first half of the 20th century, there was an environmental disaster nicknamed “The Dust Bowl”, which was due to a drought coupled with a failure to rotate crops and possibly other bad environmental practices. That lead to a migration from part of what is now called “The Bible Belt” to California, and the migrants took their culture with them (read about it at which notes that there is even a subtype of “country music” called the “Bakersfield Sound” and Bakersfield is the major town in Ashburn’s district). So, the sort of cultural homophobia that contributed to Ashburn’s behavior as it exists in his district is a consequence of shortcomings in environmental policy some 80 years ago, strange as that might sound.

  • clark

    He’s a fucked-up scumbag traitor, and he should be taken out back and shot….Let’s round up all the other lying hypocritical politicians and clergy and give them the same punishment!

  • Devon

    What a douchebag.


    @Lamar: If someone is ascared of comming out of the closet and simply hides in it, I can somewhat understand their actions. However he had the “guts” to actually go to Gay bars, be somewhat known in the community and yet still vot in favor of every anti Gay measure that he was able to. As I noted in previous posts, he actually left the chamber when the bills were introduced and made sure he made it back in time to vote for all things anti Gay. There are legislators in every legislative body in the Nation who miss dozens of votes each term. He didn’t come out of the closet by some wonderful revelation, he was dragged out kicking and screaming and only admited he was Gay because of the overwhelming evidence against him. Had it not been for that incident, he would still be voting “YES” against the Gay conmmunity</b. He is only seeking shelter from the storm, the rightwing lunatics no longer will accept him, and now he expects us to welcome him despite all the damage he has done.

    And every person partied with him at the Gay bars for years should hang their heads in shame for not exposing his campaign of hate he waged on his own community for decades.

  • Lanjier

    This is a homophobic society, and Ashburn has begun the process of dealing with his homosexuality, and hopefully his alcoholism.

    I wish him good luck on both of these journeys. And if he would be willing to work with the gay community to start building a strong relationship, and improve his voting record, I would be willing to forget the past, and forgive him.

    Redemption and forgiveness are earned, but always available to everyone.

  • counterpoll

    I don’t believe in unconditional forgiveness. If Mr Ashburn wishes to redeem himself, he needs to not just apologize –although that is a necessary first step–but he needs to atone: that is to say undo some of the damage he caused to lesbians and gays. I’m not talking about a sackcloth & ashes publicity tour –or heaven forbid a book!– but rather a full-bore press to fight for LGB rights, That will involve some serious work over an extended time (e.g. No “relapses.” No “poor me” press conferences. No excuses or blaming.

    He needs to do some heavy lifting and get seriously involved in LGB politics (although I doubt he could get hired on to do so).

    And yeah, he needs to get some serious counseling to avoid backsliding.

    America loves stories of redemption. I hope Ashburn becomes one of those stories,

    @PLAYS WILL WITH OTHERS: How right you are on his hypocracy: partying with the gheyz on the weekend and voting against them M-F! Talk about ascared and afeared.

    @B: Thanks for the historical and cultural insight. I spent about two weeks in the Bakersfield area and honestly it reminded me of Kentucky, culturally.

  • B

    No. 22 · counterpoll wrote, “he needs to atone: that is to say undo some of the damage he caused to lesbians and gays.”

    First, I’m glad you liked reading the background material about how Bakersfield became so reactionary.

    Fortunately, Ashburn did minimal damage to lesbians and gays from a pragmatic standpoint, mostly due to his timidity: he hid in the closet and tried to avoid drawing attention to himself rather than incessantly preaching against gays and lesbians.

    While he voted against LGBT rights consistently, so did nearly every other Republican, and none of the votes (at least, none that I found when I checked the voting record) was so close that one person would have changed the outcome. He apparently just voted, never raising his voice in either support or opposition to LGBT legislation. If he could have gotten away with it, he probably would have voted while hiding under his desk.

    He did participate in a rally in favor of Proposition Eight, but he was ineffective. A bunch of hecklers kept shouting, “we know you’re one of us, Ray” and the sponsors of the event thought he really might be gay because his heart wasn’t in it. One said that Ashburn didn’t exactly do a stellar job of rallying the troops. I’d imagine he sounded a bit like the nazi colonel in a silly TV program who would say “Heil Hilter” while looking like he was yawning – all this one cared about was not being sent to the Eastern Front, a fate which, if not worse than death, often resulted in death.

  • Dawson

    Yes, he hurt us. Yes he was a coward. Yes he owes us plenty. But this is a good opportunity for us to have another person who will now vote for gay rights. This is now a sure vote.

    Wanting him to step down or lose the next election will not help us. Any vote for gay rights is important.

    What he did in the past was wrong. But let’s not let vitriol to blind us. We have many battles ahead of us. He didn’t have to give the interview. He is trying to now come clean. Let’s look at this from the half full not the half empty viewpoint. A gay vote in Bakersfield can help. He could have a positive effect in a very conservative area.

    I believe all man and women are capable of forgiveness.

  • Invert

    Not only was he a raging homophobe closet case, he continues to be a reactionary Republican who built his career stomping on women, minorities, and the poor. Maybe his terrible ordeal in his self-imposed closet made him afraid to speak out for them too, but I haven’t heard that he’s changing any of those opinions.

  • Jaroslaw

    The purpose of many radio, TV and news pieces is to rile people up. Seldom is a person’s entire speech broadcast or printed. Do we know for sure if he did not pledge to try to undo some of the damage he’s done? Will it be reported if he does?

    Of course, the proof will be if he actually does anything, so I’m hardly letting him off the hook. Just giving another viewpoint to think about.

  • Cam

    It just goes to show, the more homophobic these asswipes are, the more likely that they are overcompensating for a hidden closeted status.

  • B

    No. 25 · Invert wrote, “Not only was he a raging homophobe closet case, he continues to be a reactionary Republican who built his career stomping on women, minorities, and the poor.”

    He was a closet case, but he wasn’t a raging homophobe. Rather, he just acted like The Right Honorable Sir Joseph Porter in HMS Pinafore and “never thought for himself at all,” voting the party line on gay rights in all cases, just as nearly every other Republican did. As Sir Joseph Porter said, “I thought so little they rewarded me by making me the ruler of the queen’s navy.”

    Reality (from ): “Ashburn’s work in the California Legislature has included:

    * Author of ‘Valley Fever Vaccine Legislation,’ which provides funding towards vaccine research on the disease.[3]

    * One of four named authors of ‘Welfare-to-Work Act of 1997,’ which reformed California’s welfare system.[4]

    According to Project Vote Smart, Ashburn has voted against every gay rights measure in the State Senate since taking office,[5] all of which subsequently passed.[6][7][5]”

    When I checked previously (before Ashburn’s recent single vote in favor of LGBT rights), nearly every Republican in the California State Senate had the same voting record on gay rights as Ashburn (one of the lot once voted for a single LGBT-friendly bill and a few missed an occasional vote).

  • B

    No. 9 · randy wrote, “I suspect that’s what happened in George Rekers case — someone decided to watch him carefully, or someone tipped off the press. And it did a world of good.”

    It’s probably not what happened. A friend of Rekers’ rentboy, who the rentboy had entrusted with some passwords, read the rentboy’s emails and probably realized who Rekers was due to Rekers being hired as some sort of “expert” by a Florida state official. If Rekers hadn’t accepted that position, he might have stayed too obscure to be noticed and the rentboy’s friend wouldn’t have had a clue as to who Rekers was.

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