Anti-Gay CA Senator Ashburn Walks Out of Gay Bar, Gets DUI, COMES OUT

Did you hear the one about the state senator who voted against gay marriage equality and Harvey Milk Day and who railed against the LGBT community as part of his “Traditional Family Values” campaign who turned out to be gay? It might sound familiar, perhaps because it happened last week and maybe you saw it elsewhere, or perhaps because IT HAPPENS ALL THE FRACKING TIME. (see: Outrage)

Roy Ashburn, California state senator, has a flawless anti-gay voting record, and was also arrested for DUI while leaving a gay bar with another man this weekend. “Roy Ashburn… has raised countless wads of campaign cash by cuddling up to the right wing of the Republican Party and has spewed out hateful anti-gay rhetoric to his conservative constituents, all in the name of getting re-elected. In the hours that followed Ashburn’s arrest just after 2 a.m. Wednesday, speculation boiled over in the media and in cyberspace that there has been a really smelly cover-up regarding Ashburn’s sexual orientation that has been going on for months, if not years. Apparently the mayor of West Sacramento outed Ashburn very matter-of-factly when he posted “It wouldn’t bother me so bad to see Roy Ashburn at Badlands (a gay bar) with a boy if he didn’t have such a bad voting record on gay rights.” on Facebook six months ago, but it seems like no one noticed or cared at the time. Local news media now appears to have had information for a while that might suggest Ashburn was gay, but didn’t print it because it “wasn’t relevant.” (@sdgln)

UPDATE 2:40 PM MONDAY: Senator Ashburn came out on the radio this morning. Also, he still thinks he voted correctly.

“I’m gay,” he said. “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 don’t believe — I felt with my heart being gay … did not effect, would not effect how I do my job. What happened through my own actions the other night changed all that.”

Is this gonna be the new rhetoric for outed politicians? It’s not hypocritical ’cause it’s not about THEM, anyhow? Lame.

Because it seems these days like the more anti-gay someone is, the more its’ just a matter of time before it turns out to be motivated by interanalized self-loathing, we did a piece on this last summer. Evangelicals, Rapists, Tramps & Thieves: Why Anti-Gay Leaders Love to Sin, Are the Sinners.

For those keeping track of the members of the family values conservative movement who have joined the “Appalachian Hiking Club,” you can add Ashburn to the list with Mark Sanford, John Ensign, Vito Fossella, Bob Allen, Larry Craig, Randall Tobias, Ted Haggard, Jim Gibbons, Mark Foley and our own native son, David Vitter.

A preschooler will not be allowed back to school b/c their parents are lesbians. We talked about it yesterday in the “funday” post, focusing on how the GLBT community is rallying around the family. Today we report that um it doesn’t matter.Basically they want to be able to teach anti-gay rhetoric without being interrupted by anyone who could offer a different version of events, like um, “my Moms are gay and I’m just fine!”:

“If a child of gay parents comes to our school, and we teach that gay marriage is against the will of God, then the child will think that we are saying their parents are bad,” explained Father Bill Breslin, the pastor who oversees the school. “We don’t want to put any child in that tough position– nor do we want to put the parents, or the teachers, at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Why would good parents want their children to learn something they don’t believe in? It doesn’t make sense. There are so many schools in Boulder that see the meaning of sexuality in an entirely different way than the Catholic Church does. Why not send their child there?”

GLBT PROTECTIONS: Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II has urged the state’s public colleges and universities to rescind policies that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, arguing in a letter sent to each school that their boards of visitors had no legal authority to adopt such statements.” (@huffpo)

18 US Senators have written to Margaret Hamburg of the FDA requesting a review of the ban on men who have ever had sex with men as blood donors. “We live in a very different country than we did in 1983. Today, the high-risk behaviors associated with HIV contraction are more fully understood and dramatic technological improvements have been made in HIV detection…. Reflecting the dangers associated with the window period, prospective donors who have engaged in heterosexual sexual activity with a person known to have HIV are deferred for one year. At the same time, male donors who engaged in protected homosexual sexual activity with a monogamous partner 26 years ago are deferred for life….” The signers of the bill include John Kerry, Kirstin Gillibrand, Dick Durbin, Daniel Akaka, Sheldon Whitehouse, Sherrod Brown, Frank Lautenberg, Bob Casey, Bernie Sanders, Russ Feingold, Mark Udall, Al Franken, Maria Cantwell, Carl Levin, Tom Harkin, Mark Begich, Rolland Burris, and Michael Bennet. (@metroweekly)

“A federal magistrate is ordering several gay rights groups that campaigned against California’s 2008 same-sex marriage ban to furnish some internal memos and e-mails to lawyers for the measure’s sponsors. U.S. Magistrate Joseph Spero issued the order Friday as part of the first federal trial to examine if the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from outlawing gay marriages.” As we learned in the Prop 8 trial, a lot of the h8ers’ case rests on no one being able to see the internal workings of their organizations to find out exactly what their motivations and strategies were, so this could be a step in the right direction. (@mercurynews)

After the suicide of Bryan Osmond, who may or may not have been gay, the Mormon church is facing renewed criticism on their strong anti-gay stance, mostly from Roseanne Barr. She has posted on her blog “marie osmonds poor gay son killed himself because he had been told how wrong and how sick he was every day of his life by his church and the people in it… Yet the Osmonds still talk lovingly about their church, saying nothing about its extremely anti-gay Crusade.” along with the following letter: Dear Michael, if I had been your mom, I would have told you that some of the greatest and smartest and most artisitic people who ever lived were gay. I would have shielded you from bigots who tore at your soul, like the ones that unfortunately were closest to you. to all the gay mormon children out there in the world, I will be your mom! I love you!” There is no definitive word on Bryan’s sexual orientation, and Marie Osmond is reported to be suicidal in her grief. (@examiner)

General Petraeus has issued yet another statement questioning the usefulness of DADT. A few weeks ago he stated that most servicemen and women didn’t really care if their comrades were queer, and today “General David Petraeus has admitted working with gay and lesbian CIA officers in the past. He stated on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” on a segment posted on the show’s website. General Petraeus stated “after the 10 seconds of awareness wore off, the focus was on the professional attributes.” (@lezgetreal)

The Mthwalume High School,which was closed down last month after two girls were caught kissing and then named 27 other girls as lesbians, now appears to be reopened with all 300 pupils back at school. “Commission spokesman Javu Baloyi said the commission wrote to the provincial department of education demanding answers. Lindani Mkhize, of the local branch of teachers union Sadtu, said the matter was resolved and the children were back at school on March 1.” (@timeslive)

Minnesotan politicians and leaders are working hard to oppose Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Democratic Reps. Tim Walz, Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum and James Oberstar sent a letter to President Obama urging him to speak out against the Uganda bill. The Minneapolis City Council has also passed a resolution condemning the bill, and religious leaders are speaking out as well. “It’s a terrifying thing that a religious organization can justify the silencing or annihilation of anyone just because of who they are,” American Prayer Hour organizer Rev. Laurie Crelly told, a Minnesota-based LGBT news website. “We’re defending a Christianity and a faith tradition that would be totally opposed to what’s going on” in the US and Uganda.” (@startribune)

The lawyer representing those who were injured in the reprehensible bar raid that occurred at the Atlanta Eagle in September is looking for more plaintiffs. Currently fewer than half of the people present that night are part of the lawsuit, and there are only a few days left to join. Legal fees aren’t an obstacle: “Please feel free to let people know they should not worry about legal fees, if that is the reason they have not joined the case. From the first day I took the case I agreed not to take a fee from the clients, and when the Southern Center for Human Rights and Lambda Legal agreed to join me in the case they both agreed, very happily, to the same arrangement. I would hate to think anyone is staying away from the case because of a concern about legal fees.” You can go to for more information about joining the suit – and if being a plaintiff makes you uncomfortable, you can always participate as a witness. (@joemygod)

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. Not that I support Ashburn’s voting record or anything, in any way shape or form, but I kind of feel sorry for him. (Read these quotes.) So much self hate and repression. I just want to hug all the closeted GOP homos and tell them it’s ok to come out, come over to our side. There’d be far fewer embarrassing scandals that way. And far fewer laws against us…

    • i agree with you.
      the first thing i said when i heard this story last week was “you know, if he’s really gay, that’s just sad… to hate yourself.” there’s enough people out there that hate us… the least we could do is love ourselves.

      but then, i read the story again and had to laugh. got a DUI, found with a male “companion”, sex toys and shit… in a GOVERNMENT ISSUED CAR. dude, really? who made you DD for the night?!

    • This is how I feel about all homophobes – even if it’s not self-hating, it’s still a bitterness/fear that can’t be fun to live with and you miss out on so many great people. But it’s even sadder when someone is gay and self-loathing.

      His voting record still pisses me off though. Sigh.

      • anyone who is so mixed-up about any aspect of themselves that also is an aspect of humans that is regulated and legislated by the government should GET A DIFFERENT JOB where that person is not in charge of big decisions that affect people’s lives!

        Like, he could have so many other jobs! There are so many other kinds of jobs that someone who is either closeted or out/self-loathing would be better qualified for.

        it’s just astounding to me how much self-doubt and institutionalized discrimination, sexism and racism prevents many non-white-straight-males from considering themselves eligible for public office and not even consider going for it, but yet all these dumb white conservative dudes growing up with parents who pat their stupid heads all the time just think they should get whatever job they want even if they are clearly not qualified. he lied about his sexuality to get the job that enables him to vote on DADT and ENDA. so absurd.


        • i think i just got really riled up like that for no reason, like because ‘i’m tired’

        • This sums up my own feelings perfectly.

          A couple of years ago, a british MP, Mark Oaten, stood for leadership of the Liberal Democrats (the third biggest political party in the UK). No sooner than he’d put his name in the hat, a scandal broke about him having lengthy gay affairs, and picking up rent boys on the internet for three-in-a-bed scat sessions. Not so great for a married father who played on his family image and had publicly condemned a judge for hiring male prostitutes.

          My first thought on reading this was “you plonker” (seriously, if you’re gonna get up to illicit shenanigans, at least cover your tracks better). I don’t give a shit about what he gets up to in private, but seriously, either a) if you’re too much of a coward to deal with your own sexuality, don’t be a hypocrite, and go find a closeted niche where your hypocrisy has no chance of affecting me or b) f*cking deal with it. Maybe, just maybe, if a couple more of these guys start coming out of their own accord, politicians of the future won’t have to be quite so repressed about it.

          Also, wasn’t there an episode of West Wing where they had a closeted republican who had been voting against a series of pro-gay things? My WW knowledge is not encyclopedic so I cannot remember how that worked out, but if they couldn’t resolve it on WW then we’re deffo all doomed forever.

        • It’s especially astounding that they then try to act like it’s no big deal, “I’ll do my job just the same” etc.

          Of course being gay doesn’t make you any less qualified to do any job, but you KNOW it changes yours because you are elected by a homophobic public. If it doesn’t change your job, then why not be honest with your constituents up front? Because you know they are homophobes who wouldn’t vote for you and that the homophobic laws you are voting for only reinforce their fears? AAARGH.

  2. Ah, I read that Ashburn article last week and had mixed feelings about it. I do agree with Elizabeth partially about feeling sorry for him.

    Great news fix.

  3. wow, there are so many things happening in this fix. i’m glad ashburn came out but really? i hope he votes for gays next time?

    i like what roseanne barr said. even the weird punctuation didn’t bother me too much!

    there are a lot of things happening in this fix!

    • Rarely as much as you might wish there to be. Enjoy your visit. It’s almost spring!

  4. So sad about Marie Osmond’s son. I always kind of assumed he might be gay – mostly because I thought he was kind of cute and it was just wishful thinking on my part. But man, that is so unfortunate. The Osmond’s don;t strike me as a family that would be that understanding or accepting of a homo-child.

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  7. I feel like everyone else who’s commented on this is much more compassionate than me, and much more forgiving of Ashburn. Good for you guys! Seriously!

    Mostly I am annoyed at him I think? Like, aside from lying and taking rights away from people, he has an incorrect understanding of how our government works. If representatives were supposed to vote based on a majority opinion of their constituents, we would have a pure democracy instead of a republic. Which is, you may have noticed, not the case. Mr. Ashburn, you are a whiner who blames your bad voting record on other people. Love, Rachel.

  8. It is sad that so many people have been so mean and unfair to gay people for so long. It is sad that gay people have had to choose between being honest about who they are and being the object of so much ignorance and hate.

  9. I do not feel sorry for Ashburn. He chose to build himself up as traditional family values conservative through lies and deceit and justly deserves any political fallout. As mentioned in Outrage, it’s fear that keeps politicians in the closet. If he ran and was elected as an openly gay politician, I’m confident his votes on LGBT issues would have been quite different, regardless of the majority of his constituent’s views. His interview with Inga Barks is pathetic as he struggles to reconcile his being gay and the Rights’ abhorrent record/stance on equal rights for gays. (Granted, I’m know that there are gay Republicans out there but to Riese’s point, why make the choice to go into public office and be forced to compromise who you are and what you believe by settling for one of the two major political parties?)

    So, it’s all about the constituents? By extension, Ashburn is saying I will do whatever I need to do to get elected/re-elected, even if that means voting against my conscience. Why do we need politicians, or “representatives”, for that matter? Why not have elections and put everything up for a vote? Well that would be impractical and not to mention costly but the point is that being a politician requires some level of independent thought/consideration. I’m not against representative government, just demagoguery.

    [Sidenote: California’s Oath of Office in their constitution states that members of the legislature “take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.”]

    And to the relevance and not having this reported earlier – the sexual orientation of a state senator known for voting against equal rights for LGBT people is relevant to the general public. Adam Lambert, not so much. But who bothered to talk about Adam’s personal life? Inga Barks throws out some false equivalencies out there in the radio interview, including how “not all blacks vote for Obama” and “not all women vote for abortion” but I don’t want to get started on her. I think that enough ranting and rhetorical questions for one night.

  10. That Catholic school priest’s reasoning is a thing to behold. Being the compassionate church we are, we understand it would cause this child a great deal of pain and distress to hear us calling his family an abomination, so we’re going to kick him out of school so we can call his family an abomination in peace. Conscience cleaned! Perhaps he should consider finding and rooting out all the baby LGBT students in his school too, in order to also spare them the pain and confusion the church’s teachings will inevitably cause them? One can dream….

  11. I may get shit for this, but in a way I agree with the catholic priest who is quoted regarding a child being excluded from a catholic preschool.It’s well known that catholicism isn’t welcoming of the gays overall. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the parents complained either. Sending your child there when your personal ethos etc (even if you are catholic) is at odds with the teachings of that particular church doesn’t make sense to me. It’s unfair on the kid of course, and just plain yuck that it still happens but surely this isn’t a suprise?

    On the other hand,I wonder what the school’s charter says about it. They could be in a sticky situation if they’ve ‘broken the rules’.I hope that the board of that school considers that they may get more gay parents and that they will need move with the times!

    • I shouldn’t post after a long night at work..I’m not as clear in that post as I would’ve liked.

    • I think this is part of a wider debate about how religious institutions work within society. Should any agency that provides a service be allowed to discriminate who it provides that service to?

      Recently in the UK (I seem to keep harping on about what happens here, but I have rarely heard of the people mentioned in AS’s political posts, but I am interested, so I try and relate it stuff I know about), some Catholic adoption agencies were facing closure because they didn’t want to comply with legislation that made it illegal for them to not consider gay couples as candidates (interestingly, some of they did comply, so yay for consistency).

      Part of me wants to think that they should be allowed to carry on: after all, isn’t it better that kids get parents? Isn’t it the right of the Catholic adoption agencies to believe whatever they want and let that inform their practices. After some thought I concluded no on both counts.

      It’s too easy to let discriminatory behaviour slide because the discriminators are doing something “good” that somehow can be construed as balancing it out. The mistake is to think that the greater good is the health of the children, whereas the greater-greater-good is in fact the health of a society that is fully inclusive.

      As for the right of a religious group to deny non-religious services to people they don’t approve of, that’s just plain against the law (well, some parts of the law in this country at least).

      What clouds the issue in the case of the Denver preschool is the intertwining of the education and religion. I personally believe the only way to resolve these situations is full-scale secularisation of education, as in France, because otherwise it’s just too complicated.

      I can’t see that happening in my lifetime which, in my opinion, permanently leaves a back door open for this type of discrimination. Oh wait, I’m not that old, so maybe it will, and I’ll remain optimistic for my twilight years.

    • But Catholic schools can’t discriminate for differences of other ideologies.
      For example, DID ANYBODY SEE SAVED? The angry girl was totally Jewish and she got to stay.

      • But only because they wanted to convert her. And because she’s hot. Well, that might be why *I’d* let her stay. But still.

    • Word, Sally.

      This is a preschool we’re talking about here. In preschool, you’re learning the days of the week and gluing macaroni to burlap, not talking about gay marriage and abstract concepts like sin and god’s will. Even in a Catholic preschool I don’t feel like this stuff would be a super hot topic at snack time. But anyway. I understand the point you’re making, stars, but to me the pastor’s logic is super-backwards. They’re not allowing children of gay parents to go to their preschool because they teach that gay marriage is wrong and don’t want to confuse the kids. But that doesn’t make any sense: churches don’t deny entry to gay people because they preach that homosexuality is wrong, just like they don’t deny access to any other kind of “sinner.” Love the sinner hate the sin? Isn’t that a Catholic thing? Sure, maybe there are tons of secular schools in town but what if this is the only one that those parents can get to, or afford, or the only one that has any space? Everybody sends their kids to school knowing that they’re going to learn a bunch of things they weren’t taught at home, and you deal with that as a parent by explaining things to your kids the best way you can. Besides, it’s not like being gay and being Catholic/Christian are mutually exclusive – maybe these parents are gay Catholics who wanted their kids to get a religious education and would deal with the gay thing on their own. Either way it doesn’t matter – is the school checking to make sure none of the other kids’ mothers ever aborted a pregnancy? Or had sex before marriage? Or that all the kids’ parents are still together? Doubt it. This is a really half-assed cover for blatant discrimination and the kids are the ones bearing the brunt of it. It’s hypocritical, illogical, and unchristian.

    • Totally wasn’t saying I agree with what they are doing, and what catholic schools do all the time. I can just see where they’re coming from. I went to catholic schools, primary and high school (in NZ, not the states) and there is mega politics that goes on with having a religion and education combined.

      Again, was NOT agreeing with them..if you have staff telling 2 year olds that their parents are sinners then that’s fucked up. The catholic guilt thing and the damange it does can’t be underestimated! Shining a light on this issue, and all the other bull that they preach over and over again is so important to make some headway. But Benedict is still a homophobe so I don’t know what we’ll do about him…

  12. I am at lost for words. But as we know it well, some of the loudest cries against homosexuality are from closeted gays, themselves. Wake up and smell the gay coffee, damn AMERICA! It’s such a shame. Embrace your inner queer baby and be outwardly Fabulous. We already know you’re flaming behind close doors. Set your self ablaze for the world to see. And Ashburn, I’m not even going to connect the term “flaming” to your last name, haha. But you know, voting to appease constituencies meant that you sold your soul and ultimately betrayed the purpose of our political system. But at least now you get to skip down the sidewalk, worry-free! I hope you get counseling for all those years of self-hatred and repression.

  13. I can understand the priest’s reasoning but that still doesn’t give the school the right to not allow the kid to attend. However, I do question the parents logic in sending their kid to that particular school.

    On a side note, I went to a catholic high school and was never taught that homosexuality was bad.

  14. I think it’s HILARIOUS that a school was full on shut down bc of lesbian kissing? Srsly? So thats a good message to all those kids who’d like to take a Ferris Bueller and just start some lesbian rumors, and apparently they will freak the eff out and you’ll have a month off of school!!! (?????)

  15. Oh, Senator Ashburn. How I would laugh if it weren’t so sad, or tragic, or hypocritical, or so typical. Oh, Senator Ashburn, how I extend this to the Republican Party as a whole, too.

  16. This is two birds in one stone of a contradiction. As a politician, you would think he would be more aware.

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