Friday, January 23, 2009

Gillibrand for Marriage Equality?

It would be a big turnaround if true, but Empire State Pride Agenda is saying that Kirsten Gillibrand, the woman Governor Paterson is going to name to Hillary Clinton's senate seat, is now for marriage equality and overturning the Defense of Marriage Act and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." From the press release:

Gillibrand Tells Pride Agenda She’s for Marriage Equality and Repeal of Federal DOMA Legislation

January 23, 2009, New York City – Last night likely Senate pick Kirsten Gillibrand spoke to Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle about issues important to New York’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

“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,” said Van Capelle. “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.”

That's quite a 180 from a woman with a 100% rating from the NRA, who was opposed to gay marriage and who appears to be a Republican at heart. From the Village Voice:

The irony is that Paterson may be swinging from the nation's most prominent Democratic family to one with strong Republican ties. Gillibrand's father, Doug Rutnik, is an Albany insider and lobbyist whose ties to former GOP powerhouses Joe Bruno, George Pataki and Al D'Amato are legendary. In fact, Gillibrand won her seat when a state police domestic violence report about the GOP incumbent, John Sweeney, was mysteriously leaked, ostensibly with the acquiescence of the Pataki administration, which had its own reasons to oppose Sweeney. Bruno is under federal investigation now, and some of the subpoenas in the case involved a real estate deal that partnered Rutnik with Bruno and another lobbyist. Rutnik dated, and eventually lived with, a top Pataki and D'Amato aide for many years, until he broke up with her in 2006 to marry a cousin of his, Gwen Lee, who'd worked in high-paying state jobs secured by the same aide. Rutnik and D'Amato have been registered lobbyists for some of the same clients.

Perhaps Paterson extracted promises from her. Or she realizes she needs to go left quickly or she'll meet a serious challenge come election time. Whatever the reason, I'm glad she's suddenly supportive of full right LGBT people if that is indeed the case.