Ashburn, who is in his last year representing a bedrock conservative region that includes most of Tulare County, organized a Traditional Values Coalition rally in Bakersfield in 2005 to support a proposed constitutional amendment that year to prohibit gay marriage.
At a 2004 rally in Fresno, Ashburn criticized Democrat Jim Costa for supporting domestic partnerships. The two were squaring off in a congressional race that Costa ended up winning.
Ashburn also touted his support for Proposition 22, a ballot initiative that defined marriage as between a man and a woman, calling himself a co-sponsor of the 2000 measure.
Equality California, a gay rights group, gave Ashburn a "zero percent" for his 2009 voting record.
Ashburn voted against bills that included expanding California's mental health services for gay youth and measures to protect gay prisoners from violence -- which won some GOP votes -- and creating a day to honor slain gay activist Harvey Milk.
Ashburn has said he didn't believe he had been a staunch anti-gay activist, insisting the way he had voted on social issues reflected his constituents' views. Ah, and therein lies the rub.
Ashburn was arrested on drunk driving charges while driving his state-issued vehicle and while leaving a gay bar in Sacramento. He immediately took a few days leave to reflect and upon his return, revealed that he was a homosexual. The LA Times reported that Ashburn said "I am gay," "Those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long. But I am gay. But it is something that is personal and . . . I felt with my heart that being gay didn't affect -- wouldn't affect -- how I did my job.
I emphatically agree with West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, an openly gay Democrat, when he said "I don't think it's a scandal for an elected official to be gay, I do think it is hypocritical to know that you are gay and pretend that you are straight. It has to be difficult, period. But especially when you are a public servant, where is the trust when the truth is revealed?
I understand that the Senator is not running for re-election and that's probably just as well. I imagine he has some very serious conversations in front of him with his family and friends. Roy Ashburn says that he felt with his heart that being gay did not or would not affect how he did his job, but he was wrong. Who you are, regardless of race, creed, gender, or culture will affect everything in your life. Every vote he made against human rights, every time he spoke out against gay rights had to have a visceral affect on him. The bottom line, though, is would his district have elected him had they known his sexual preference? I think we know the answer to that and I think Roy Ashburn did too.