Online Extra: Political Notes: In a first, zero CA GOPers flunk LGBT legislative scorecard
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For the first time since 2004, when the state's LGBT rights organization began scoring California lawmakers, no Republican in the Legislature received a zero on Equality California's 2016 Legislative Scorecard.
And for only the second time did an out lawmaker fall short of a perfect 100 percent score from EQCA. Lesbian state Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) received a 91 percent grade.
EQCA released its scorecard last week, relatively late for the organization to do so. The delay was partly due to it combining the report card for legislators with its annual report, which it has done in the past but not often.
According to the 58-page document, EQCA is on some of the strongest financial footing in its history. The total combined revenue for the agency, its Equality California Institute, and the Equality California Political Action Committee was $6.4 million last year, more than three times the total in 2014.
A large part of that growth was due to EQCA's PAC, which swells in years with state elections, especially when there is a heated race featuring an out candidate the agency has endorsed. While the PAC had close to $34,000 in 2014, the amount jumped to $2.1 million in 2016, largely because of the contested race to elect gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) instead of his straight opponent, San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim.
Its financial largesse has allowed EQCA to expand its focus outside of the state and hire its first lobbyist in Washington, D.C. at a time when LGBT advances are under assault by the Trump administration and GOP-controlled Congress.
"While the years ahead present challenges, I can promise you this: we are prepared. We are not going back. We will fight like hell," promised EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur in his message in the report. "As an LGBT community and as Californians, we are stronger together."
As for its scorecard, EQCA uses it in determining its endorsements and has a strict policy that it will not endorse lawmakers who do not earn a 100 percent rating. The 2016 scores were calculated based on how lawmakers voted on eight bills EQCA sponsored, two resolutions, and two bills it opposed.
As he has in years past, Democratic Governor Jerry Brown earned a perfect score.
"Our scorecard is a strong incentive for elected officials to stand with the LGBT community in both word and deed and, we hope, can help you to make informed voting decisions," wrote Andreas Meyer , the EQCA board's immediate past president, in the report.
GOP lawmakers make gains
The Bay Area's lone Republican state lawmaker, Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (Dublin), was the only GOPer to score 100 percent in 2016. It was an improvement from 2015, when none received a perfect score, but still short from 2014, when three Republicans for the first time earned a rating of 100 percent on an EQCA scorecard.
The majority of the statehouse's 41 Republicans earned scores of 30 percent or higher last year. Fifteen had scores between 30 and 49 percent, while 12 placed in the 50th percentile or higher.
The Republican with the lowest score in 2016 was former Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), who earned 11 percent. Termed out of her Assembly seat, Grove is running for a state Senate seat in 2018. Last week, she held several fundraisers featuring another GOP lawmaker with a terrible record on LGBT rights, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
Near record number of Democrats fall short
A near record number of Democrats, 13, received less than 100 percent from EQCA in 2016. The total was just shy of the record set in 2013, when 14 Democrats earned less than perfect scores.
The reason was due to many of them not voting for Senate Bill 1146, which requires religious universities to publicly disclose whether they have a "license to discriminate" against LGBT students because they received an exemption from federal anti-discrimination laws. Six Assembly members had their endorsements from EQCA revoked in their re-election races last year due to their not supporting the bill, and both Assemblywomen Cheryl Brown (D-San Bernardino) and Patty Lopez (D-San Fernando) were defeated by the candidates EQCA switched its support to in their races.
"Our Equality Scorecard gives members of the LGBT community and our allies the tools to understand which legislators are voting to advance LGBT equality and hold others accountable," stated Zbur.
As for Galgiani's imperfect score, she lost points for voting for SB 1457, which EQCA opposed last year. The bill, authored by Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga), would have allowed students unlimited time off from school to take part in off-campus, private religious instruction.
EQCA fought to defeat the bill, which was killed in the Senate, because it would also have allowed the students to receive up to two credits toward graduation at institutions where the state has little control over content that may be anti-LGBT.
The last time an out lawmaker did not receive a perfect score from EQCA was in 2008. Lesbian former state Senator Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) earned an 80 percent that year for not voting on Assembly Bill 3015, which required LGBT sensitivity training for those taking care of foster youth as well as for the youths themselves. (EQCA scored her not voting on the bill as a no vote.)
It is not the first time that Galgiani, who came out in 2011, has fallen short on an EQCA scorecard. When she was still in the closet, she earned a 92 percent on the 2010 scorecard for not supporting a bill that clarified churches did not have to perform same-sex marriages and would not lose their tax-exempt status if they didn't. (Then-Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it.)
On the 2007 scorecard Galgiani earned a 60 percent score due to her opposition to a quartet of bills EQCA backed that year. Every other year she has served in the Legislature, Galgiani has received a 100 percent score from EQCA and she earned its endorsement in her re-election race last fall.
To download the annual report and scorecard, visit http://www.eqca.org/wp-content/uploads/EQCA-AnnualReport2016.pdf.
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Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail Matthew S. Bajko