Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Ashburn first gay to get SF Pride’s Pink Brick

San Francisco’s LGBT Pride Celebration Committee has announced they’re giving the 2010 Pink Brick Award to Sen. Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield), the conservative lawmaker who recently came out as gay after a DUI arrest.

Choosing Ashburn (pictured at left) for the award, which is given each year to a person or institution whose actions have caused the most significant harm to the LGBT community, marks the first time an out gay person has been a Pink Brick recipient.

Amy Andre, the Pride committee’s executive director, said in a statement announcing the award Wednesday, April 21, that by selecting Ashburn, “the LGBT community is sending a strong message to the world that LGBT people—especially those with the political power and privilege to further LGBT rights— have a responsibility to work toward liberation for all.”

Ashburn, who has a solidly anti-gay voting record, was arrested on drunken driving charges after he was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol at around 2 a.m. on March 3 in downtown Sacramento. Sources have told media outlets that Ashburn had just left a gay bar in the area.

A few days later, Ashburn acknowledged he’s gay and told a Kern County radio station that he has no regrets about the votes he has cast against gay rights legislation.

“I am gay,” Ashburn told radio host Inga Barks. “And so, those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long. It is something that is personal, and I don’t believe I felt with my heart that being gay would affect how I do my job.”

During the radio interview, Ashburn said he felt he was representing his constituents with his anti-gay votes.

“I felt my duty, and I still feel this way, is to represent my constituents,” he said.

However, it appears Ashburn might be at least a little open-minded.

Equality California has met with Ashburn, and he has expressed interest in receiving more information about the LGBT lobbying group’s legislative agenda, Vaishalee Raja, EQCA’s communications director, wrote in an e-mail to the Bay Area Reporter.

Ashburn has also agreed to meet with youth attending Queer Youth Advocacy Day in Sacramento on Monday, April 26, Raja wrote.

Geoff Kors, EQCA’s executive director, commented in an e-mail, “We hope receiving the Pink Brick will not hurt the chances of the Senator supporting LGBT-rights legislation. We were surprised to hear that the decision was made after the Senator came out this year and indicated that he is very open to supporting LGBT bills.”

Andrew LaFlamme, director of Ashburn’s Sacramento office, declined to comment on the Pink Brick award, and did not respond to a request to confirm the meeting with EQCA.

Ashburn has voted against a number of bills on various social issues, and consistently voted against any LGBT equal rights legislation, including last year’s Senate Resolution 9, authored by out lesbian state Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), calling for the repeal of the military’s anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and openly gay state Senator Mark Leno’s (D-San Francisco) bill establishing a day of recognition for slain civil rights leader Harvey Milk.

This year marks Pride’s 40th anniversary. The celebration will be June 26-27. For more information, visit Pride’s website.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, April 22, 2010 @ 3:29 pm PST
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