in plain sight

If Everyone Knew CA Sen. Roy Ashburn Is Gay And Voted Anti-Gay, Should They Have Reported It?

Was California State Sen. Roy Ashburn actually at a gay bar prior to his DUI arrest? Some are questioning the original report!

That the anti-gay state lawmaker was cruising dudes at a gay bar, and appears to have picked one up, made our list of the 7 Worst Things about Ashburn’s arrest. But the manager of Faces, the Sacramento gay bar, says he never saw Ashburn that night. Which doesn’t mean he wasn’t there; just that he wasn’t seen by the manager in a packed club of 400 patrons.

Moreover, Ashburn’s camp won’t comment on any part of his arrest, including his whereabouts before he was pulled over by California Highway Patrol, so for now it’s just CBS 13 claiming he was there.

But in some David Mixner/Outrage!-style twist, it appears the local media knew about Ashburn’s sexuality. Or at least the rampant rumors he’s less than straight. Lois Henry, a columnist at the Bakersfield Californian, Ashburn’s hometown paper, asked the lawmaker straight out, “Are you gay?” Ashburn refused to give a straight(!) answer, responding only, “Why would that be anyone’s business? Including The Californian’s? 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.” Back in 2004, another reporter had asked Ashburn that same question, to similar results.

To some, it’s curious that Henry and the paper wouldn’t report their suspicions about an anti-gay lawmaker to its readers, but we can understand how that went unreported. When the information gets back to editors, their concern is accuracy, and having substantiated information. Rumors are just that: rumors. And while this website and many readers might support public outings of anti-gay politics, print media hasn’t necessarily caught up with that manifesto.

Meanwhile, to others it might be curious that Ashburn, rather than issue outright denials about being gay, responded with vague answers about his sexuality. Keep in mind: He’s a married father of four. Without a firm denial, he gets to say (somewhere down the road, like right this moment) that he never lied about his sexuality; it also gives folks like us enough room to speculate and assume the obvious. Instead, Ashburn would just say his voting record reflects the wants of his constituents, and not (necessarily) his personal beliefs.

Then again, this is the guy who told supporters, in a 2005 press release, “We need to preserve traditional values for the future of our children. Children must be raised with morals and principles. As a society, we must provide them with a secured and loving environment that allows them to flourish.”

UPDATE: West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, who is gay, says he’s seen Ashburn regularly at gay bars. And while he respects Ashburn’s right to privacy, Cabaldon says he can’t stand the hypocrisy. So, uh, why didn’t Cabaldon expose the anti-gay state senator before?

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UPDATE 2: This man claims he tried, after seeing Ashburn at gay bars, outing him in the media, but reporters wouldn’t take the story.