Republican senator apologizes for anti-gay career

Roy Ashburn, an outed Republican state senator from California, apologized for his years of anti-gay votes and explained why the republican party should support LGBT rights, in a guest essay on Gay Politics:
"I should begin with an apology. 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. For nearly 26 years, the voters in my area of California trusted me as their elected representative. I look back now knowing there is so much more I could have done to inform the public about LGBT people and to fight for equal rights under the law. Regrettably and selfishly, I took another path in my life and political career—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.

My past actions harmed gay people. In fact, all people are harmed when there is unequal treatment of anyone under the constitution and laws of our country. I do not believe in discrimination, and yet my votes advanced unequal of treatment of gay people and promoted the suspicion and fear that limits people from being forthright and accepted in society.

Now, from what I have lived and learned, I want to do the best that I can to advance equality and freedom for all people. Given the shame and confusion that many feel over their sexual orientation, perhaps my situation can serve as an example of both the harm that can come from denial and fear, and the opportunity to try to make things right.

... Now, I am somewhat of a novelty in politics. I am a gay Republican. I have always been a Republican, even as an eight-year-old boy with an intense interest in campaigning, elections and government. To me, Republican principles hold that each individual is special and unique; each individual should have the maximum freedom and opportunity under our Constitution; that government has no business in the private lives of our citizens.

If these truly are the guiding values of Republicans—how did we ever get into the situation where my party is viewed as the anti-gay-rights party? Well, maybe because Republicans, including myself, have voted and acted to oppose equality and freedom for gay people.

It's time for fair-minded Republicans to speak up for what our party really stands for—individual freedom and limited government. If we truly believe the greatness of America is founded on the individual achievements of ordinary citizens acting with the maximum amount of personal liberty, then there should be no debate over where Republicans stand on the rights of LGBT Americans."

I'm impressed that he apologized and seems to have learned important lessons. And he makes an interesting case for why the real values of the GOP support gay rights. He is being honest now, instead of denying the truth and crawling deeper into the closet, like other outed homophobes (Larry Craig, George Rekers, etc... there's a long list.) I hope this new honesty will make his life more joyful and less stressful.

Too bad he built his fame, fortune and political career on voting against every LGBT issue that would have made life better for the people of his district.

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