Equality California’s Legislative Scorecard for 2017, rates lawmakers in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C. on how they voted on Equality California’s highest priority legislation.
“For the first time ever, our scorecard shows the strength of our advocacy not only in the California Legislature, but also in Congress,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “We aren’t allowing the threats of the Trump Administration to go unanswered and will use these scores to educate our community about legislators’ stances on LGBTQ issues and hold them accountable for their votes in the upcoming 2018 elections. Despite the barriers we face, particularly in the nation’s Capitol, the voices of LGBTQ Californians were heard loud and clear in 2017, as this report captures.”
California ratings were based on how legislators voted on 6 sponsored bills, two sponsored resolutions and two supported bills specific to LGBTQ people. This year, Senate Democrats bounced back from a 98 percent average Equality Score in 2016, due to holding legislators accountable for their votes on priority bills, to a perfect 100 percent Equality Score. The average score among Assembly Democrats held steady compared to last year at 98 percent. Overall, in the State Senate, the average score decreased very slightly from 79 percent in 2016 to 77 percent in 2017, which is attributable to a slightly larger decrease in pro-equality votes among Senate Republicans from 38 percent in 2016 to 31 percent this year.
In the Assembly, the average score decreased by less than a full point, from 78 percent in 2016 to 77 percent in 2017. The average score for Assembly Republicans decreased from 39 percent in 2016 to 32 percent in 2017, despite bipartisan support on many of our legislative priorities. Although Republican scores in both houses decreased this year and remain at failing levels on average, some Republicans still stood strong and demonstrated their support for pro-equality legislation. Assemblymember Brian Maienschein in particular earned a 100 percent Equality Score, the only Republican to do so in 2017.
“Equality California is a critical partner in our work to advance civil rights for the LGBT community,” said Assemblymember Evan Low, Chair of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus. “This past year, as states across the country introduced bills to scale back LGBTQ protections, California passed landmark legislation to respect people’s gender identity reduce LGBT disparities in education, housing and employment, and fight back against Trump’s agenda of hate. The fight for equality is far from over. The California Legislative LGBT Caucus is grateful to have such a tenacious advocate on our side.”
Republican control of both houses in Congress and the White House meant that no pro-equality legislation came to the floor for a vote in 2017. EQCA’s Congressional scorecard, therefore, only tallied two actual votes: the attempted repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and the venomously anti-transgender Hartzler Amendment, which would have banned the coverage of transition-related healthcare for active-duty transgender service members. Our 2017 Congressional scoring also accorded equal value to cosponsorship on legislative proposals that are core to LGBTQ civil rights and wellbeing—the Equality Act and the Dream Act.
“Federal legislative proposals that were not scored in 2017 are nearly as meaningful as the ones we did score,” said Valerie Ploumpis, National Policy Director. “This is because they represent our now ‘aspirational’ bills that we are working to advance as soon as Democrats, who have been supportive of LGBTQ equality, win back one or both houses of Congress. For that reason, six non-scored bills will be scored in 2018, and we hope that Members of the California Congressional delegation will co-sponsor and support them. Equality California is committed to serving as a resource when considering new legislative ideas.”
Each piece of legislation that Equality California sponsored and supported in 2017 advances the organization’s mission to bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equality for all LGBTQ people.
A copy of the 2017 Legislative Scorecard is available here.