Valley Reaction to Ashburn's Announcement

FRESNO, Calif. Conservative South Valley state senator Roy Ashburn has ignited harsh opinions from both the Republican Party and the lesbian and gay community.

"He gave a bad name, overall, to politicians," said Fresno county Republican party member Dr. A.P. Sidhu.

Gay activist Robin McGehee said: "In my opinion, he was a bully."

Monday morning Ashburn came out of the closet on a radio talk show. "I am gay. Those are the words that have been difficult for me to say for so long. But I am gay," said the senator.

The district 18 representative, which includes portions of Kern, Tulare and Visalia, was arrested in Sacramento on March 3rd for D.U.I.

Numerous reports placed him at a gay night club, not far from where he was pulled over. His admission Monday caused people to scratch their heads over his voting record.

Ashburn has voted against a number of gay rights measures and supported Prop 8--keeping marriage between man and woman only.

Sidhu said: "For us and the people of his district he was hiding something and he was acting like something he was not so he breached their trust."

Fresno county Republican party chair Dr. A.P. Sidhu said Ashburn has distracted lawmakers from doing their job.

"We need leadership in Sacramento who want to solve the problems not create the problems," said Sidhu.

Gay rights activist Robin McGehee said Ashburn needs to resign. "He created the closet for himself that our society struggles with and being closeted is a total work of his own work that he's done as a voter on bills that affect our community," she said.

"He voted the way his district may have wanted him to vote but the district did not know who the true person really was. That's unfortunate," said political analyst Tony Capozzi.

Capozzi said it will be interesting to see which way Ashburn votes during his final months in office, especially with the 2011 budget meetings coming up.

Capozzi: "He's going to be the key person that the democrats are going to go to. The key person that the Governor is going to go to, to get that vote, to pass the budget."

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