After getting caught drunk driving from a gay nightclub in a state vehicle, California State Senator Roy Ashburn has announced he’s gay. This is particularly controversial because he’s also a Republican with a socially-conservative voting record.
For that, the Daily Beast’s Meghan McCain accuses him of hypocrisy.
The second part that’s upsetting about Ashburn’s story is the tremendous disconnect between his private life and his public record. The state senator had a long anti-gay voting history, including opposing several anti-discrimination measures and same-sex marriage. In his radio-show confession, Ashburn defended his record, saying, “My votes reflect the wishes of the people in my district. I have always felt that my faith and allegiance was to the people there, in the district, my constituents.”
So what exactly does that mean? That a politician should mold himself to be what his constituents want and completely disregard his own identity or how he feels personally? On some level, I agree with that. An elected official is there to serve the people, not to vote a personal agenda. But that only works if there is transparency and honesty. If Barney Frank votes against an anti-gay discrimination measure, at least voters know he is gay. If a Roy Ashburn does it, it is the worst kind of hypocrisy.
I’m confused…now social liberals think a politician’s private life is the public’s business? That certainly wasn’t the standard back when Bill Clinton committing perjury and obstruction of justice was okay, since it was “just about sex.”
Further, just how relevant is Ashburn’s sexual orientation to his politics? His voting record shows three votes against celebrating gay activist Harvey Milk with a state holiday, one vote against “expanding anti-discrimination laws,” one vote against condemning Proposition 8, and one vote against recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages.
Considering that the real Harvey Milk was a demagogue far less heroic than Sean Penn’s silver-screen version, and in fact had a record of embellishing, and in some cases outright manufacturing, the danger his sexuality subjected him to (in fact, his murder wasn’t even related to his being gay), it’s clearly not homophobic to deem him undeserving of formal recognition.
Project Vote Smart says the anti-discrimination bill Ashburn voted against, among other things, added sexual orientation to a whole array of factors that insurers cannot be taken into account. So, now in order to be a good gay person, you apparently have to force insurers to ignore behavioral factors relevant to the likelihood of client illness and death. Gotcha.
As for his same-sex marriage votes, it’s worth noting that Proposition 8’s brief text simply said, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” It did not challenge the state’s domestic partnership registry or the legal benefits it offered. So, Ashburn’s crime is…what, exactly? Denying homosexual Californians a strictly-formal legal status that wouldn’t grant them any more benefits protections than they already have access to anyway? Are homosexuals not allowed to have individual opinions and interpretations of marriage as a societal institution? (Counterintuitive though it may seem, gay support for gay marriage is not completely unanimous.)
Hypocrisy is when somebody advocates a standard he has no intention of applying to himself. Unless Roy Ashburn has condemned gay bars or advocated jailing homosexuals, his record doesn’t show that. In complaining about “clichés,” Meghan McCain enforces a few of her own: that every aspect of the gay leftist agenda is synonymous with “gay rights,” and that every gay person in America has to think alike. If you ask me, such blind promotion of identity politics is really what pushes America back.