A Republican state senator who consistently opposed gay-rights measures for the bulk of his career has earned the highest score among Republicans legislators in a ranking released today by the state's leading gay-rights advocacy group.
Sen. Roy Ashburn, who came out earlier this year after rumors surfaced that he was at a gay night club the night he was arrested for drunken driving, scored 86 percent in
Equality California's 2010 legislative scorecard -- higher than some Democrats on the list.
The Bakersfield Republican was given a grade of zero percent from the group in 2009 , when he voted against or abstained on every single bill included in the ranking.
This year, he supported 12 out of 14 of the measures that factored into the Senate scores.
Ashburn defended his earlier record after publicly disclosing his sexual orientation earlier this year -- saying his votes were aligned with the views of his district constituents -- but soon changed his course by speaking out and voting for a handful of LGBT-supportive bills.
"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 on the floor this year, during a vote for a bill he ultimately did not support. "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."
Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors said in a statement accompanying the ranking that a record 14 measures sponsored by the organization were adopted in 2010.
"We are truly grateful to each of the legislators who voted for LGBT rights during the last legislative session, especially those who stood with the LGBT community 100 percent of the time," he said in a statement. "Thanks to their support, the outstanding work of the legislators who introduced the measures and our dedicated membership, we shattered records by passing the greatest number of LGBT legislation in the history of our state and our nation, and we garnered more bipartisan support than ever before."
See the full scorecard here.
PHOTO CREDIT: Senator Roy Ashburn poses in the State Capitol, Friday April 20, 2007.
Sacramento Bee/ Brian Baer.