Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I'm always wary of people who think they know what's best for others. When the State Senate refused to go along with the Assembly in adopting "Cuss-Free Week," Brent Hatch, father of the founder of South Pasadena High School's "No Cussing Club" said, "This is basically saying to people, especially kids, 'We don't care what you do.'" That's right, Mr. Hatch. When it comes to my personal conduct, the State Legislature should not care what I do. I wonder about people, like Mr. Hatch, who would love to control my personal life. You just wonder what they're hiding.

Take Republican State Senator Roy Ashburn, for example, whose built a career fighting against gay rights:

Reporting from Sacramento - A Republican state senator from conservative Bakersfield said Monday that he is homosexual, days after a report that he had been at a gay nightclub in Sacramento before being arrested on drunk driving charges while behind the wheel of his state car last week.

Sen. Roy Ashburn returned to work after being on leave since his arrest early Wednesday not far from the Capitol. The incident had touched off speculation about Ashburn's sexual orientation because a Sacramento television station said it occurred after he left a gay club. And Ashburn drew fire from activists for voting against gay-rights legislation.

The senator, who avoided reporters in the Senate chamber Monday afternoon, broke his silence in an interview on Bakersfield radio station KERN-AM (1180) in the morning, saying the episode had led to "restless nights" and "soul searching."

Ashburn told radio host Inga Barks that he owed his constituents an explanation. She responded, "Do you want me to ask you . . . the question, or do you want to just tell people?"

"I am gay," Ashburn answered. "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 didn't affect -- wouldn't affect -- how I did my job.

"Through my own actions," said Ashburn, a divorced father of four, "I made my personal life public."

The arrest, widely discussed on Internet blogs, in newspapers and on TV, brought accusations of hypocrisy against the senator.

In 2005, Ashburn, like all but one other Republican in the Senate, voted against a bill that would have allowed same-sex marriage in California. The bill was later vetoed by the governor.

Ashburn also voted no, along with most of his GOP colleagues, on legislation passed last year that designated May 22 of each year as Harvey Milk Day, in honor of the slain gay-rights leader.

"It is unfortunate he helped spread the bigotry that forced him to stay in the closet," said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, a group supporting gay marriage. "We hope he now takes this opportunity to educate people in his district and throughout the state that his sexual orientation is irrelevant."

Ashburn said his votes "reflect the wishes of the people in my district."

The senator announced months ago that he would not seek reelection this year. He had been under fire from conservative leaders in his district for voting with Democrats a year ago to approve tax increases.

"His recent drunk driving incident certainly adds to the concerns about his personal responsibility and his regard for the taxpayers whose vehicle he was driving," said Martin Bertram, president of the nonprofit Republican Assembly of Kern County.

He said the senator's revelation that he is gay "will not win him favor among conservatives," but he did not see Ashburn's past votes as hypocritical.

Ashburn faces arraignment next month in Sacramento County Superior Court on two misdemeanor counts involving driving under the influence of alcohol.


altadenahiker said...

Well, here's my question. Is it possible for a gay man to be against gay marriage? Or a gay man to be against a day honoring some other man who was gay? My thought is -- of course.

I think it's patronizing to assume all gay people have the same political agenda. Just as I think it's patronizing that we had some international woman's day recently. Yuck. As if all the other days belong to someone else.

Mister Earl said...

I agree with your point, Hiker, but the problem here is that Mr. Ashburn was not being a gay man who happened to be against gay marriage. He was posing as a straight man who actively opposed gay rights. His anti-gay positions were designed, it appears, to hide who he really was. It's the hypocrisy that bothers me. My point is that people who go around trying to regulate the behavior of others are often hiding something.

altadenahiker said...

If that was the motive behind his opposition, then yes, I agree. (Sorry. Maybe I'm still itching against this international woman's day. I thought we were so far beyond that.)

dbdubya said...

How did you get from Cuss Free Week to this?

Yes, Hiker, it's possible to be gay and be against gay marriage. There used to be a conservative talk show host in LA named Al Rantel. Al is openly gay, although you would never know it unless you listened regularly. He never mentioned it unless asked. Yet, he was opposed to gay marriage. Ashburn says he took anti-gay positions to represent the views of his constituents (Bakersfield, sort of an anti-West Hollywood). But, I think Mr. E has it right. He hid it for political reasons. I can admire someone like Rantel, but not Ashburn. As for Mr. Hatch, who's 15, I don't believe he's a closeted cusser.

One of the reasons I admire Morgan Freeman is because of what he said in an interview with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes. When asked by Wallace why he didn't support Black History Month, his response was something like, "Why should we celebrate black history for only one month? You're Jewish, right? Do you need a Jewish History month? I didn't think so. Neither do we."

TheChieftess said...

DB...love the quote from Morgan Freeman!

And AH I'm right there with you with International Woman's day...

And Mr. E...I agree with the frustration over hypocrisy...

However, I still the think the more the government folks spend time on silly types of things like no cuss week, the less chance they have of messing up things that are really important!!!

altadenahiker said...

Haha. (I love that quote too)

Mister Earl said...

I love that quote, too, and Hiker's original sentiment about International Women's Day. What I would like to organize, however, is Jews in Media Week!

altadenahiker said...

Yes Earl, someone was collecting for that outside Ralph's yesterday. I gave what I could.

dbdubya said...

What did you give for Hiker, the Jews in Media Week? What is the word or phrase that is the opposite of an oxymoron? Wouldn't that be what you would call Jews in Media? An anti-oxymoron?

When I see the Hiker's name, I think of an organization my dad used to belong to. It was the United States Health and Hiking Society (USHHS), or "Hikers" for short. They had a logo and everything. When I was young I thought the Hikers had something to do with staying in shape and hiking. It wasn't until I was older that I learned the Hikers had nothing to do with health or hiking. It was a bunch of guys who used to get together to play golf, gamble and drink, mostly drink. They'd go away for Hiker weekends and have Hiker golf tournaments. As I recall their logo had crossed golf clubs, playing cards, and a martini glass. They're all gone now, but they were a wild and crazy bunch of guys who knew how to party in the 50's, 60's, and 70's.

WV: Unpity - What I have for those who are upset about Cuss Free Week

Brenda's Arizona said...

Harvey Milk was openly gay. Look what it got him - dead. Hmmm.

Mr Ashburn is a closet gay man, and it only got him embarrassed. Hmmmm.

Tough luck, Mr. Ashburn. Live with it.

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