I don't know if y'all non-Californians have been watching the latest Republican-legislator-turns-out-to-be-gay kerfuffle. In case not, here's a quick summary from a Los Angeles Times opinion piece this morning:
By now, you've probably come across the excuses offered by Republican state Sen. Roy Ashburn, outed following his DUI arrest after reportedly leaving a gay bar in Sacramento last week, for his history of voting against gay-rights legislation. The gist is that his voting record merely reflects the wishes of his constituents, and that he thought he could separate his personal life from his political career[....]
(Btw, I've seen articles that claim Ashburn is married, but he's actually divorced.)
The article goes on to provide, and discuss, the full quote from Ashburn about his reasons for his votes. There's some good discussion in that piece, and it talks about some aspects of the situation that I'm not going to address here (like the issue of whether his constituents would've voted for him in the first place if they'd known about his orientation, and the question of whether legislators should precisely follow public opinion or whether they should lead).
But the thing I haven't yet seen anyone discuss in any detail is this:
In February of 2009, Ashburn "was one of six Republican legislators who crossed party lines and voted to pass the state budget." Some of his constituents were so unhappy about this that they launched a recall attempt, on the grounds that "the senator voted for a budget with tax increases after signing a pledge not to raise taxes in 2006" (quotes in this paragraph are from linked-to article). Ashburn's response: "I will always respect the people's right to elect or unelect me."
In the end, the recall attempt failed to get the necessary signatures to make the ballot. But my point is: do that vote and that statement sound like the actions or words of a man who is unswervingly dedicated to voting exactly as he believes his constituents want him to vote, never wavering into taking a stand for what he personally believes in?
Y'know, if a gay guy wants to do his best to prevent gay-rights laws from passing, he can do that. But the idea that he did it because it's what his constituents wanted, and that he was selflessly denying his own beliefs in favor of theirs, doesn't seem to me to hold water.
(Of course, it may be that the majority his constituents really did want him to vote in favor of the state budget last year, in which case I withdraw my complaint here. But it doesn't sound to me like it was a real popular move.)