The story...as it has emerged and reported in at least two queerty articles. The first breaking the story and the second clarifying details of the story and adding video testimony from West Sacramento Mayer Christopher Cabaldon. As I understand it Senator Ashburn was pulled pulled over and arrested on a DUI charge. It was reported that he had just left a local gay bar and that he had a male companion in the care with him at the time of the incident...AND he the Senator did all this in a state vehicle. You know you have to really be weaving badly to get pulled over in a car with state plates. Why is this a big deal? Because Senator Ashburn has been very outspokenly anti-gay in his duties as a Senator. He's fond of using the "traditional values/ gay marriage hurts kids" line to garner support in his ver conservative inland California senate district. He has been a consistent voice against gay marriage in California including, voting against a Senate resolution declaring Prop 8 an unconstitutional act. He also voted against California recognizing Same-sex marriages performed out of state. He voted against the creation of a holiday honoring Harvey Mile...three times!...and also voted against including sexual orientation as a protected class in the states insurance laws. He uses his voting record as his beard...we get it.
The circumstances surrounding his arrest leave him alot of room for denial. The owner of the bar in which he was arrested gave a statement that he did not remember seeing Ashburn in the bar on the night of his arrest...notice he did not say that he had ever seen Ashburn in his bar. Fair enough he serves alot of people and may not be aware of who Ashburn is....its also possible that the Senators staff have been on the phone with him encouraging that memory loss. Also, the passenger of car isn't speaking up which leaves us to guess what they might have been doing at the time. So, without anyone to say that he had intoxicated himself at that establishment he could squash the gay rumor pretty cleanly.....exept for two things....
Local media already had an idea he was gay. Lois Henry of the Bakersfield Californian asked the Senator about his sexuality. his response:
"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."
This would never be the response a straight man would give. This is closetgay avoidance manuever#2 and, in poker terms...a tell (#1 being the pronoun game).
The second item putting Senator Ashburns actions back into question are statements made by openly gay West Sacramento Mayor, Christopher Cabaldon claiming that he has seen the Senator at gay venues on more than one occasion. Queerty includes a clip from local t.v. news CBS 13 in which the Mayor reports that he has spoken up before on the issue via facebook:
My question is...if Mr Ashburn has been voting this way all along and still participating in gay life, why has his sexuality been allowed to be the elephant in the room for so long. Is outing someone so taboo to gay men and women that we will allow our community to be hurt so much for so long before we finally say "enough is enough"? Did anyone recognize Senator Ashburn for who he was...I'm not sure I would had it not been for his DUI arrest and the scandal it generated. And the deeper question...did anyone care? If your no where near caring about marriage would you have said something about the Senators actions?
"It wouldn't bother me so bad to see Roy Ashburn at Badlands with a boy if he didn't have such a bad voting record on gay rights"
The senator is a divorced father of four...and now known to drive under the influence of alcohol. I sincerely hope we don't hear anymore "traditional values" speaches used against the gay community in the future as Senator Ashburn has lost the ability to stand on that platform just on the basis of his DUI.
I suspect that he will be able to pull a Charlie Crist and deny that the circumstances had anything to do with his sexuality...or that his sexuality in anyway has a bearing on his politics....which, of course....it does. But we now know and the people of California know. I do not wish to damage or villify this man...even though he has done that to us. However, he is still activily engaged in hurting the gay community, in all its variations, while at the same time trying to live within that community undercover. That can't continue if we ever want to see the day when our lives are treated with equal respect under the law. Lawmakers like Senator Ashburn must be allowed to use their voices and influence to damage the gay community while at the same time expecting to be in its shadows. For this reason the truth needs to be known.