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Roy Ashburn

Member of the California Senate
from the 18th district
Assumed office 
Preceded by Jack O'Connell

Member of the California State Assembly
from the 32nd district
In office
Preceded by Trice J. Harvey
Succeeded by Kevin McCarthy

Born March 21, 1954 (1954-03-21) (age 55)
Long Beach
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Alma mater California State University, Bakersfield
Religion Roman Catholic

Roy Arthur Ashburn (born March 21, 1954) is a Republican California State Senator representing the 18th District. The 18th district includes portions of Kern, Tulare, and San Bernardino Counties, as well as all of Inyo County. First elected to the Senate in 2002, he is currently in his second four-year term.

Although he has maintained a firmly anti-gay voting record as a Senator, in March 2010 Ashburn acknowledged that he is gay.[1]


Political career

Ashburn worked for Kern County Supervisor LeRoy Jackson for 1972-1977 (then attended College of the Sequoias full time from 1977-1979), for Congressman Bill Thomas from 1979-1983, as a Kern County Supervisor from 1984-1996, as a California State Assemblyman from 1996-2002, and as a California State Senator since 2002.[2]

Political achievements/positions

Ashburn's work in the California Legislature has included:

  • Author of "Valley Fever Vaccine Legislation," which provides funding towards vaccine research on the disease.[3]
  • One of four named authors of "Welfare-to-Work Act of 1997," which reformed California's welfare system.[4]

According to Project Vote Smart, Ashburn has voted against every gay rights measure in the State Senate since taking office,[5] all of which subsequently passed.[6][7][5]

DUI arrest

On March 3, 2010, Ashburn was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving while operating a State of California owned vehicle. The Senator was pulled over in Sacramento by the California Highway Patrol shortly before 2 a.m.,[7] with sources saying he was leaving a Sacramento gay nightclub, Faces, in the Lavender Hill neighborhood, with an unidentified male passenger in a state-owned Chevy Tahoe.[5] Asburn's blood alcohol content was measured at 0.14%.[8] The arrest "launched nationwide speculation that the veteran lawmaker is gay and therefore a hypocrite for voting against gay-rights bills."[9] In response to those accusations, during an interview on KERN radio,[10] Ashburn stated that he is gay, and that he believes "that my responsibility is to my constituents."[11][12] When asked during the interview whether he personally agreed with votes he made on gay rights issues, Ashburn didn't answer the question.[13]

Radio show

A local radio station servicing Ashburn's 18th district, AM1180 KERN, broadcast Roy Ashburn's weekly Saturday radio show from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM Pacific until February 27, 2010, when he announced that he was hosting his final show. The fact that KERN deleted his DJ page[14][15] and his show's description page [16] from their radio station's website shortly after his drunk-driving incident caused speculation that he was fired for this incident or his sexuality. Ashburn stated that he was considering running for Congress and did not want KERN to be in conflict with federal equal time requirements.[10]


Born in Long Beach, California, Ashburn received a bachelor's degree in Public Administration from California State University, Bakersfield in 1983 and attended College of the Sequoias in Visalia. His religion is listed as Roman Catholic in the biography for him printed by CSU-Bakersfield. Ashburn is the divorced father of four daughters, Shelley, Shannon, Stacy and Suzana.[17] Since his arrest for operating under the influence—immediately after leaving a gay bar, with a male passenger with him at the time—led to mass speculation that Ashburn was gay, Ashburn admitted his homosexuality.[11][12]


  1. ^ "US anti-gay rights senator Roy Ashburn comes out". BBC News. 9 March 2010. Retrieved 9 March 2010. 
  2. ^ "JoinCalifornia - Roy Ashburn". JoinCalifornia Election Archive. 
  3. ^ "Governor Davis Signs Valley Fever Vaccine Legislation, 10/12/2001 (Press Release)". Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  4. ^ Rebecca S. Engrav. Recent Developments: CalWORKS: California's Response to Welfare Reform. Berkeley Women's Law Journal. "After eight months of heavily partisan and rhetoric-filled legislative debate, California Governor Pete Wilson signed the Thompson-Maddy-Ducheny-Ashburn Welfare-to-Work Act of 1997 ("California Welfare Act") into law on August 11, 1997." 
  5. ^ a b c "Sources: Lawmaker At Gay Club Before DUI Arrest". / KOVR. Mar 3, 2010. 
  6. ^ Project Vote Smart,,
  7. ^ a b Bill Lindelof (March 3, 2010). "State senator arrested in Sacramento on DUI count". The Sacramento Bee. 
  8. ^ "Details of Roy Ashburn's DUI arrest released". Los Angeles Times. March 5, 2010. 
  9. ^ Christine Bedell (Thursday, Mar 04 2010). "Report ignites debate over Ashburn's orientation, gay-rights voting record". Bakersfield Californian. 
  10. ^ a b YouTube audio of the KERN interview (and surrounding radio show) in which Ashburn discussed the DUI charges and identified himself as gay.,
  11. ^ a b Christine Bedell (Monday, March 8, 2010). "Roy Ashburn: "I am gay"". Bakersfield Californian. "I am gay and so those are the words that have been difficult for me for so long..." 
  12. ^ a b Matthew Keys (March 8, 2010). "Despite Being Gay, Senator Defends Voting Down Equal Rights Measures". KTXL.,0,5284542.story. 
  13. ^ Michael B. Farrell (March 8, 2010). "Roy Ashburn: Where do gay Republicans fit among conservatives?". Christian Science Monitor. 
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ "1410 KERN NEWS/TALK". 2008-03-21. Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Sen. Roy Ashburn (R-California) biography". UC for California. 

External links

California Assembly
Preceded by
Trice J. Harvey
California State Assemblyman
32nd District
1996 – 2002
Succeeded by
Kevin McCarthy
California Senate
Preceded by
Jack O'Connell
California State Senator
18th District

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