St. Sen. Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield
SACRAMENTO, CA - Four months after a scandal that made national headlines, St. Sen. Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield, said he is optimistic and energized.
"Everyday something new and often wonderful happens," he said.
It is a sunny attitude for the lawmaker who in March was arrested for driving under the influence in a state-owned vehicle outside a gay bar in downtown Sacramento. Ashburn had been one of the most socially conservative legislators with a record of voting against gay-friendly legislation.
"The hypocrisy is true. I lived a double life. I had tremendous passion and drive to be in public life, to be elected, and I've had a remarkable political career," said Ashburn, who said he now regrets his votes against gay equality measures.
"The Republican party is the party that believes in limited government and individual freedom," Ashburn said. "The government shouldn't get involved in private lives."
Ashburn is finishing his final months in office, due to term limits. He knows his conservative credentials are still being questioned.
"No one has really spoken to me about my votes and I've decided that I'm going to vote the truth," Ashburn said. "I am no longer going to vote against rights for people because they happen to be gay or bi or transgendered. I'm not going to do that."
As for his DUI arrest, Ashburn is completing required classes and work programs while using his bike to get around downtown Sacramento.
"Having my car taken away changes everything about the basics of getting to work and to the grocery store. I have found a connectedness and a pace that I hadn't allowed myself before," he said.