"On a personal note, before I speak to the bill, I would not have been speaking on a measure dealing with sexual orientation ever, prior to the events that have transpired in my life over the last three months," Ashburn said, according to the Sacramento Bee.
"However, I am no longer willing or able to remain silent on issues that affect sexual orientation, the rights of individuals and so I'm doing something that is quite different and foreign to me."
In March, Ashburn was arrested for drunken driving. After a torrent of rumors that Ashburn -- a staunch family-values Republican who never voted in favor of gay rights -- had been at a gay club before his arrest, he came out as a gay man.
"I'm finding my way," he told a local news station after yesterday's vote.
He said he voted against gay rights in the past in order to keep his sexuality under wraps.
"I'm not proud of it," he said. He even spoke out in favor of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.