SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A California State Senator is "out of the closet" after a DUI arrest exposed that he'd been leading a double life.

Republican Roy Ashburn of Bakersfield has consistently voted against gay rights legislation, but the divorced father of four admitted he was gay on Monday.

Asburn outed himself on a Bakersfield radio station, telling his constituents that he had tried to keep his personal and professional lives separate until his March 3rd arrest.

"I felt with my heart [that] being gay wouldn't affect, didn't affect, how I do my job,” said Ashburn. “Again what happened the other night, with my own actions, changed all that."

Geoff Kors of Equality California, a gay rights group, faulted Ashburn for taking so many anti-gay stances in his political career.

"He not only voted no on every bill,” said Kors. “He went out and advocated to repeal domestic partnership rights."

Ashburn defended his anti-gay votes as representing his constituency.

Certainly the Central Valley is not San Francisco when it comes to diversity. But his critics said his votes were more a cover for his sexuality than the wishes of his district.

"I don't believe his constituents support employment discrimination against gay people or that kids should be harassed in school because they're gay or people should be kicked out of their house because they're gay. Yet he voted against laws to ban that kind of discrimination," said Kors.

Returning to the senate floor on Monday for the first time since his arrest, Ashburn was greeted warmly by many colleagues. Openly gay politicians were sympathetic to his struggle, but hope he will become a moderating force for other Republicans.

Approached by reporters Ashburn refused further questions.

A leading gay Republican group said it has already extended an olive branch to Senator Ashburn.

"This whole thing doesn't need to be a tragedy,” said Charles Moran of the Log Cabin Republicans.”It can actually be a shining example of someone who's gone through these trials and tribulations and used it as an educational tool."

In his radio interview, Ashburn said he will keep voting with what he believes is the majority in his district. But after 14 years at the Capitol, his term ends this year and he has no plans for public office after that.


My Take:

I can't help but to think if this Guy had not gotten a DUI he would not have come out of the closet.