The Human Rights Campaign has issued its annual Congressional scorecard on issues important to the gay, lesbian, and transgender community. A look at how California lawmakers fared shows some interesting results.
As expected, nearly all House Democrats from the Golden State agreed to co-sponsor every piece of legislation backed by the HRC, and voted up or down in ways the campaign approved; most California Republicans did not.
But there were exceptions.
The HRC didn’t like the House version of the Violence Against Women reauthorization because, unlike the Senate version, it doesn’t expand protections to partners in same-sex couples. Democrats, by and large, voted against it, but so did GOP Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach and Tom McClintock of Lake Tahoe.
McClintock voted against it for reasons other than its exclusion of same-sex couple protection. On his website, McClintock blasts the legislation as "a feel-good measure that uses 'Violence Against Women' as an excuse to vastly expand a dizzying array of government grant programs, hamstring judges who are attempting to resolve and reconcile highly volatile relationships, add $1.8 billion to the nation’s debt and generally insinuate the federal government into matters the Constitution clearly reserves to the states."
Another bill would forbid spending any money in the Justice Department’s budget to fight the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. All California House Democrats voted against it. All but two Republicans from the state—Jerry Lewis of Redlands and Mary Bono Mack of Palm Springs—voted for it.
Bono Mack also voted against restricting Defense Department funds from the fight against DOMA. The eight-term Congresswoman is running in a race pundits rate a "toss up." The district includes a city with a large population of gay voters — Palm Springs.
House members were asked to co-sponsor a couple of bills related to benefits for same-sex partners. One would equalize the tax treatment of employer-sponsored health insurance plans for gay and lesbian couples. It got six Republican co-sponsors, none from California. All but five California Democrats signed up as co-sponsors. Those declining were Mike Thompson, John Garamendi, Jerry McNerney, Jim Costa, and Anaheim’s Loretta Sanchez.
Those same Democrats, plus L.A.'s Maxine Waters, declined to sign on to a bill that would provide health care and retirement benefits to same sex partners of federal employees. Again, no California GOP sponsors. Waters' office says she signed on as a co-sponsor after Congress left town, which will be reflected when the HRC updates its list. Sanchez's office says she supports and will co-sponsor both measures, but the paperwork won't be completed until Congress returns to Washington after the election.
Over on the Senate side, Barbara Boxer got a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign. Dianne Feinstein’s name was missing from the co-sponsorship of a pair of bills. It appears one of them, the Senate version of the House’s tax parity measure for employer-sponsored health plans, was a clerical error. Feinstein’s office says she asked to be listed as co-sponsor months ago, but was left off the list. She will be added as a co-sponsor.
Here’s a link to the entire report: