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January 27, 2009


Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand has been appointed by NY Governor David Paterson to fill Hillary Clinton's vacated senate seat.

Before being picked, Gillibrand was a congresswoman from a very rural, conservative area in upstate New York and is known as a "Blue Dog Democrat" because of her conservative stands and votes on most issues. Her own web site boasts, “She has been an ardent opponent of legislation that will curb the Second Amendment for responsible gun owners and currently has a 100% voting record with the National Rifle Association (NRA).”

However, her position on issues important to the GLBT community seem to be evolving. A January 15th posting at PolitickerNY.com said;

Gillibrand received an 80 out of a 100 rating from the LGBT advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign. That was the lowest score out of New York’s Democratic representatives. According to the Human Rights Campaign, she opposed legislation that would grant equal tax treatment for employer-provided health coverage for domestic partners, opposed legislation to grant same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and permanent residents the same immigration benefits of married couples and opposed legislation to permit state Medicaid programs to cover low-income, HIV-positive Americans before they develop AIDS.

The article went on to say,

That said, Gillibrand is not an ideologue. The positions she took were arguably necessary as a means of getting elected in a conservative-voting district. And there is a notion among political observers that if she represented the entire state, those positions would soften to better reflect New York’s more liberal complexion.

Since being appointed senator her positions on GLBT issues seems to be evolving rapidly. On January 23rd, the blog Towleroad.com posted the following:
The Empire State Pride Agenda, released a statement from its Executive Director Alan Van Capelle:

"After talking to Kirsten Gillibrand, 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 federal DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) law, repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) and passage of legislation outlawing discrimination against transgender people. While we had a productive discussion about a whole range of LGBT concerns, I was particularly happy to hear where she stands on these issues."

Considering Governor Paterson's own strong stands supporting gay marriage and other GLBT issues, I am very hopeful that Director Capelle's statement is closer to where Gillibrand stands today. Only time will tell.