Hillary Clinton's senate replacement supports gay marriage

Sat. January 24, 2009 12:00 AM by Kevin Wayne

New York - New York Gov. David Paterson announced Friday that Democratic Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand will replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate.

Gillibrand's appointment as New York's new junior senator has come under sharp criticism from gun control and immigration advocates and even fellow Democrats.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had been a strong supporter of Caroline Kennedy's bid for the Senate, issued a statement noting his "strong disagreement" with Gillibrand on gun control.

Not everyone is upset, abortion and gay rights groups hailed her selection.

Gillibrand has reportedly expressed support for gay marriage and said she would support full repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act as well as the Don't Ask Don't Tell military policy.

On Thursday night, Gillibrand spoke with Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle about her stances on LGBT issues. "After talking to Kirsten Gillibrand," Van Capelle said in a statement, "I am very happy to say that New York is poised to have its first U.S. Senator who supports marriage equality for same sex couples. She also supports the full repeal of the [Defense of Marriage Act], repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and passage of legislation outlawing discrimination against transgender people."

On Wednesday night, Caroline Kennedy announced her decision to no longer seek Clinton's seat, citing personal reasons.

"Governor Paterson's pick of Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand is a step forward for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as she brings with her a strong record of support and understanding," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese in a Friday statement. "Gillibrand has already spoken out in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples; hate crimes protection legislation covering our entire community; fully inclusive employment non-discrimination legislation, and the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'. As we advance pro-equality legislation in the 111th Congress, we look forward to Senator Gillibrand's support and votes."

During her term as a New York state lawmaker, Gillibrand co-sponsored the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act and a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act.