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Sun Gazette: Delegates Hit Back After Family Group Ranks Them at Bottom of Scale Print


Created:  Wednesday, May 15, 2013  6:00AM


The two legislators say they will wear that bottom-of-the-barrel ranking as a badge of honor.
Brink (D-48th) and Hope (D-47th) were among four members of the General Assembly – all in the House of Delegates – to receive “0” rankings from the 2013 scorecard of Family Foundation Action, a group that says it focuses on “the principles of life, marriage, parental authority, constitutional government and religious liberty.”
The 40 members of the state Senate and 100 members of the House of Delegates were rated based on 20 different votes taken during the 46-day legislative session.
The average score among legislators was 68 in the House of Delegates and 57 in the state Senate, but varied significantly by party: House Republicans scored an average of “90” compared to a “20” for House Democrats, while Senate Republicans scored an average “90” compared to “23” for Senate Democrats.
No members of the state Senate received “0” rankings; the lowest scores in the upper house were “11” for Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) and “12” for Sen. Toddy Puller (D-Mount Vernon). Besides Brink and Hope, the only House members to score goose-eggs were Fairfax Democrats Scott Surovell and Kaye Kory.
Nine senators and 13 delegates, all Republicans, received scores of “100”.
The usually mild-mannered Brink and Hope came out swinging against the Family Foundation. Brink called its rating system “garbage.”
“Its distortion of the expression ‘pro-family’ to achieve its desired ideological result is Orwellian,” the county’s senior member of the House of Delegates said. “The group shows its right-wing hand with the first three issues it scored,” Brink said, ticking off the first trio:
* “If you voted to weaken the most important service the state provides to families – our public schools – by giving corporations tax breaks for private education, then you’re ‘pro-family.’”
* “If you voted to require women to undergo an invasive, unnecessary procedure – transvaginal ultrasound – in order to exercise a constitutionally protected right, then you’re ‘pro-family.’”
* “If you voted to allow state-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against individuals who want nothing more than to provide a child with a loving, stable home, then you’re ‘pro-family,’” Brink said.
“I’m proud I got a ‘0’ from the Family Foundation on their ‘pro-family’ scorecard. If I’d done much better, I’d have demanded a recount,” Brink said.
Hope took the rating with a grain of salt and sense of humor.
“It’s a little surprising they couldn’t find even one thing I did right,” he said. “What could be more pro-family than fighting for health insurance for the poor and the sick, and they didn’t even count that.”
But he was critical of the group and others that try to distill complicated legislative sessions into tidy rankings.
“It’s unfortunate that so many legislators fear the ‘scorecard,’ especially one from a far right-wing group that supports hateful discriminatory practices,” Hope said. “It really is what’s wrong with our democracy that everything has to be either black or white, and these groups put the fear in you to pressure you to vote their way.”
Being at the bottom of the ranking is unlikely to hurt either Brink or Hope, who occupy solidly Democratic districts.
“I represent the people of Arlington, and could care less what the Family Foundation or any other right-wing group thinks of me,” Hope told the Sun Gazette.
Among other legislators representing Arlington, state Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd) received a “20” while state Sens. Barbara Favola (D-31st) and Adam Ebbin garnered scores of “18”. Del. Rob Krupicka (D-45th) scored a “10” while Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49th) received a “5” in the rankings.