A Republican state senator in California with a staunch anti-gay voting record came out of the closet Monday and asked for his constituents' prayers. "I am gay," state Sen. Roy Ashburn said on a conservative talk radio show. "Those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long."
Speculation about Ashburn began last week after he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving near a gay nightclub he reportedly patronized in Sacramento. Ashburn said since then, he's been plagued by "restless nights" and "soul searching." He finally decided his constituents deserved to know the truth.
"I've always believed that I could keep my personal life personal and my public life public. But through my own actions, I have made my personal life public," he said on AM 1180 KERN Radio.
The 55-year-old divorced father of four defended his opposition to gay rights, saying his votes reflected the majority views of his largely conservative district, "not my own point of view, not my own internal conflict." Ashburn anti-gay votes included opposing recognizing gay marriages performed legally in other states, and against a bill to establish a Harvey Milk Day in honor of the murdered gay-rights activist.
Asked about his Christian faith and whether he now will live an openly gay life, Ashburn was ambiguous.
"I would ask people to pray for me. My faith is very clear and very firm," he said. "I pray to God that I can find peace, and I want to go back to work in the Senate and work hard for the people who sent me to the legislature."
Ashburn will leave office this year after 14 years because of term limits. He was planning on running for Congress. But now he said he will not run.