Calif Senate approves ending effort to ‘cure’ gays

Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California would officially end a requirement that a state agency research the causes and cures for homosexuality under a bill approved by the state Senate.

The bill updating a 60-year-old law was sent back to the Assembly on Monday, Aug. 23 for final action.

The law passed in 1950 classifies gays as sexual deviants. It requires the Department of Mental Health to research the causes and potential cures for homosexuality.

The bill, AB2199, was carried by Sen. Roy Ashburn, a Republican from Bakersfield. Ashburn revealed he was gay earlier this year after he was cited for driving drunk while leaving a gay bar.

The measure passed the Senate on 36-0 vote without debate.

—  John Wright

A perfect example of the politics of fear: California Sen. Roy Ashburn apologizes for anti-gay votes

Sen. Roy Ashburn

California State Sen. Roy Ashburn isn’t really someone to point to as a role model when it comes to proud gay men. He was deeply closeted most of his life, and spent his time as a senator diligently voting against anything even remotely gay positive, including his vote last November against establishing an annual Harvey Milk Day in honor of the murdered gay rights activist. And in 2005, he not only voted against same-sex marriage in California, he organized an anti-gay-marriage rally.

But then this past March 10, Ashburn’s house of cards came tumbling down: He was stopped as he left a well-known gay bar, with a man in the car with him, and arrested for DWI.

So Ashburn owned up and came out. He admitted, he is gay. But he still defended his anti-gay votes, saying that he was following the wishes of the constituents in his district.

Now, though, the senator — in his final term — has taken yet another step forward: He has apologized for his anti-gay votes in a blog post on GayPolitics.com. He said:

“I am sincerely sorry for the votes I cast and the actions I took that harmed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Just as important to me, I am sorry for not stepping forward and speaking up as an elected official on behalf of equal treatment for all people.”

And why, you may ask, did he vote against the best interests of himself and his community for so long? He has an answer:

“I chose to conceal who I truly am and to then actually vote against the best interests of people like me. All this was done because I was afraid — terrified, really — that somehow I would be revealed as gay.”

He was afraid. He was afraid because he lived with a secret. He lived, as a transgender friend of mine described it, “stealth.” What better example could anyone ask for of the dangers of living in the closet?

He may have not come out all that willingly, but now that he is out, Roy Ashburn is changing his tune — and his politics. And he is calling on his party — the Republican Party — to change its politics, too:

“We stand for equality as well as opportunity. We stand for individuals living their lives without fear or limits imposed by a powerful government. We stand for a government of limited powers over citizens, including not being involved in the private lives of people. These tenets of Republican ideology call for bold action by our party when confronted with the real-life issues of discrimination against LGBT people.

“I am no longer willing, nor able to remain silent in the face of unequal and hurtful treatment of my community. It may have taken me a strange, incoherent and long path to get here, but this is where I find myself as a gay Republican senator. It’s time for Republicans to find our way and fight for equal treatment for all people, especially the freedom to be unique and have our rights acknowledged and protected.”

OK, so while his life up until this year isn’t role-model material, it looks like Ashburn is moving in that direction. I just wish it wasn’t his last term in the California Senate. And I hope his GOP colleagues will listen to him.

—  admin

Democrat forced from office after gay incident

Rep. Eric Massa
Rep. Eric Massa

First term Democratic representative Eric Massa announced his resignation from Congress last week citing a recurrence of cancer.

Yesterday he accused White House chief-of-staff Ram Emanuel of forcing him out of office as retribution for voting against health care reform, according to the New York Times.

He said he was forced from office because of sexual harassment of a male aide. Massa is opposite-sex married. The incident is being investigated by the House ethics committee.

A White House spokesman dismissed the claim.

While this sounds like the case of Calif. State senator Roy Ashburn last week, an outed gay man who has stood firmly against LGBT rights, here’s what I found Massa has said about equal rights:

I know from personal experience in the military that the current policy, Don’t ask, don’t tell, doesn’t work. I fully support civil unions and equal legal rights for all Americans. Although civil unions do not provide all of the answers for the issues facing same sex couples, I believe they are a good start, and I support them.

I do not support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning gay marriage; that is a wedge issue and a political ploy designed to distract voters from the massive failures of the Bush administration and Congress; it would also be the first amendment in our country’s history to explicitly restrict rights.

—  David Taffet

Ashburn comes out, defends anti-gay votes

Roy Ashburn
Roy Ashburn

Republican California State Sen. Roy Ashburn, arrested last week on a drunken driving charge after leaving a gay bar, came out today in an interview with a Bakersfield radio station, according to The Fresno Bee.

“I am gay… those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long. But I am gay,” Ashburn told conservative radio talk show host Inga Barks in an on-air interview.

Ashburn also defended his anti-gay voting record, saying he represents a conservative district.

“There’s never been a doubt in my mind on the position of the vast majority of people in my district on these … issues,” he said. “And so I voted as I felt I should on behalf of the people who elected me.”

—  John Wright

Turns out, everyone knew anti-gay Sen. Roy Ashburn was gay, but nobody said anything

Roy Ashburn
Roy Ashburn

Two newspapers and the openly gay mayor of West Sacramento knew that California State Sen. Roy Ashburn was gay and said nothing about it, despite Ashburn’s anti-gay voting record. As Tammye noted below, Ashburn was arrested Wednesday on a DUI charge after leaving a gay bar. He had an unidentified man in the car with him. Here’s blogger Joe Jervis’ reaction to the news that no one spoke up:

At this moment, I’m not so interested in the detestable Roy Ashburn and his pathetic defense of “I was voting the way my constituents wanted.” Because to my mind, the biggest story here isn’t Ashburn’s closeted homosexuality and anti-gay voting record. As we all know, that is a story we have seen a hundred times. And will see a hundred times more. The REAL story here is the media’s collusion and the conspiracy of silence on the part of our own people. Folks, when you know somebody is actively working day and night to thwart the rights of your FAMILY, of your PEOPLE, you fucking say something.

Folks, if you have solid evidence about a possibly closeted lawmaker in Texas who is actively working against LGBT equality, please call us. And yes, that includes Gov. Rick Perry.

—  John Wright

Another anti-gay Republican gets caught with his hand in the gay cookie jar

KOVR-TV, a local news station in Sacramento, is reporting today that a another anti-gay Republican has been caught red-handed, so to speak, in a compromising situation that calls his own sexual orientation into question.

royashburn_1Sen. Roy Ashburn, who represents parts of Kern, Tulare and San Bernadino counties in Southern California, was arrested early Wednesday morning, March 3, for driving drunk in Sacramento after officers with the California Highway Patrol saw his black Chevy Tahoe swerving down the street. Ashburn was driving.

Police reports indicated Ashburn had just left a gay bar called Faces. KOVR-TV said Ashburn immediately identified himself to the officers as a state senator. The station also said Ashburn had another man in the car with him, but that this man “was not identified as a lawmaker.” He was not detained.

Ashburn, a married father of four, released a statement on Wednesday afternoon in which he apologized and acknowledged that there was “no excuse for my poor judgment.”

He said: “I accept complete responsibility for my conduct and am prepared to accept the consequences for what I did. I am also truly sorry for the impact this incident will have those who support and trust me — my family, my constituents, my friends and my colleages in the Senate.”

—  admin