It was meant to be a celebration of the achievements of six Californians, role models to the millions of LGBT people who make the Golden State their home.

The first Pride Recognition Awards were sponsored by the State Legislature’s LGBT Caucus, to honour high-achieving Californians who are gay. Among them was Reichen Lehmkuhl, boyfriend of N-Sync star Lance Bass.

Instead the ceremony at the State Capitol in Sacramento was reduced to the level of a farce, with Republican Assembly members using it to belittle the event and heckle the honourees.

The leader of the Republicans in the Assembly stood up to question the point of the awards:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I rise to point out the ridiculousness of the exercise. We’re wasting a lot of time we have a lot of bills on the floor.” George Plescia is quoted by KXTV-Sacramento.

He then led a walkout of Republican members. Despite their absence, the ceremony carried on.

Democrat Assembly member Mark Reno said the awards show “the strength of our diversity and the many accomplishments in a variety of disciplines.

“So it’s a great disappointment that they’re acting like such children.”

Lance Bass attended the ceremony honouring his boyfriend. As reported by PinkNews.co.uk last month, Bass finally came out of the closet last month, at the age of 27.

32-year-old Reichen Lehmkuhl won the US reality show “The Amazing Race” and has subsequently worked as a model and TV presenter.

He served in the US Air Force for five years and is a leading advocate of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Team, opposing the current ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy of the US military.