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California senator says he's gay, defends his anti-gay votes

SACRAMENTO — California state Sen. Roy Ashburn, whose personal life became the subject of rumors in the wake of a DUI arrest last week, announced Monday that he is gay, but he defended his numerous votes against gay rights bills.

"I am gay . . . those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long. But I am gay," Ashburn told conservative radio talk show host Inga Barks in an on-air interview.

A Sacramento TV station last week reported that unnamed sources saw Ashburn at a gay bar the night before his arrest last Wednesday on suspicion of DUI. The speculation set off a media frenzy, rekindling rumors that Ashburn lived a closeted life.

Gay-rights advocates seized on the news to point out Ashburn's votes against gay rights legislation and his appearance several years ago at a rally in support of a proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage.

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