It’s tempting to harangue Republican state Senator Roy Ashburn as a hypocrite for being virulently anti-gay over the years and then admitting yesterday that he’s gay himself. But Ashburn’s story unfortunately is not uncommon, and it says more about the large number of people in our society who are intolerant of gays and lesbians than it does about one pitiful politician.
It seems clear that if a large majority of Americans openly accepted gays and lesbians, instead of demonizing them, then people like Ashburn wouldn’t be so afraid to embrace their own sexuality. But because they are so fearful of being demonized and marginalized, they overcompensate and become rabidly anti-gay in an obvious attempt to hide their own misplaced shame. It’s pathetic, twisted, and sad.
And it makes it understandable why Ashburn now says that he plans to keep voting against gay and lesbian rights, because that’s what his conservative constituents want. In other words, the world of right-wing bigotry is so powerful and so scary for some people that it can convince a terrified gay politician to deny basic civil rights to people just like him.
That’s not to say that Ashburn doesn’t deserve scorn. He does. He’s a coward. But until our society progresses out of the Dark Ages on gay and lesbian rights, stories like his shouldn’t be surprising.