Roy Ashburn Speaks

I opened up the LA Times this morning to find this interview with the train wreck that is Roy Ashburn. Ashburn is the formerly closeted California State Senator who was outed after leaving a gay bar in Sacramento.

Here is what Ashburn had to say about his anti-gay voting record:

The best I can do is to say that I was hiding. I was so in terror I could not allow any attention to come my way. So any measure that had to do with the subject of sexual orientation was an automatic “no” vote. I was paralyzed by this fear, and so I voted without even looking at the content. The purpose of government is to protect the rights of people under the law, regardless of our skin color, national origin, our height, our weight, our sexual orientation. This is a nation predicated on the belief that there is no discrimination on those characteristics, and so my vote denied people equal treatment, and I’m truly sorry for that.

Ashburn’s explanation sounds plausible. Whether it is forgivable is another matter.

The interviewer assumes that Asburn will become a “go-to spokesman for a lot of gay issues.” I’m not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, I suppose it is useful to foreground a converted homophobe, because he might encourage others to recant. On the other hand, I am reluctant to have our movement give a public platform to someone like Ashburn, who has lived a life of deception to work against our interests for so long. Thoughts?


Liz Newcomb is an attorney by day and committed LGBT activist by night and weekend. She has worked as a researcher at the Williams Institute. While in law school at UCLA, she was Articles Editor of the LGBT law journal. Liz lives in West Hollywood with her wife, Lynne. They are one of the 18,000 California same-sex couples who got married during the summer before proposition 8 passed. Liz has lived in California for over 20 years and brings a left coast perspective to AMERICAblog.

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