Republican State Sen. Ashburn says he’s gay, but won’t support gay rights legislation

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AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

State Sen. Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield, receives a hug from Jane Parsons, chairman of the Fresno County Republican Party, during an election-night party held in Fresno Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2004.

Republican State Senator Roy Ashburn said today that he’s gay.

The Republican — who represents Bakersfield and parts of San Bernadino County – offered the information after his arrest last week.

State Senator Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield) made the announcement on KERN AM radio.

"I’m gay," Ashburn 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 felt with my heart that being gay did wouldn’t affect how I do my job."

The Bakersfield Republican has repeatedly voted against gay rights legislation – including a bill to establish a statewide day in honor of Harvey Milk. Ashburn said he voted that way to best represent his constituents – and will continue to uphold their wishes.

Senator Ashburn said he’s been able to keep his private life separate from his working life until his arrest last week in Sacramento for suspicion of driving under the influence. After the arrest some news outlets reported Ashburn had been drinking at a gay bar.

Ashburn, who is serving his final term in the State Senate, has been on leave from his job since the arrest. The senator was expected to return to the capitol Monday.

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