BAKERSFIELD, Calif., March 8 (UPI) -- A conservative Republican California state senator who has voted against numerous gay rights measures announced Monday he is homosexual.
Sen. Roy Ashburn disclosed his sexuality during a radio interview with KERN, Bakersfield, during which he said he had spent "restless nights" and gone through "soul searching" since he was arrested last week on drunken driving charges. There were published reports Ashburn had just left a gay club in Sacramento when he was arrested.
Ashburn, who has been on personal leave from the California Senate since his arrest March 3, said Monday disclosing his homosexuality "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 didn't affect -- wouldn't affect -- how I did my job."
Ashburn said he made his "personal life public" as a result of his behavior, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, which advocates for same-sex marriage, said it was "unfortunate (Ashburn) helped spread the bigotry that forced him to stay in the closet," the newspaper reported.
"We hope he now takes this opportunity to educate people in his district and throughout the state that his sexual orientation is irrelevant," Kors said.