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Breaking: Kirsten is the new Hillary?

by Jeremy Hooper

gillibrandWPIX (NYC's CW affiliate) is reporting with certainty that Kirsten Gillibrand has been chosen to fill Hillary Clinton's Senate seat:

Confirmed: Kirsten Gillibrand Chosen to Fill Clinton's Senate Seat [WPIX]

So what do we know? Well, in terms of our unions: The Gay Hudson website reports that they inquired with Gillibrand's office about the congresswoman's marriage equality stance, and that this was among the quotes they were given:

"I believe we should have a Federal law that protects all civil unions across America to ensure that gay couples have the right to visit a loved one in the hospital and be eligible for other entitled rights and benefits of committed partners.

The discussion of using the term marriage is more complicated because for many Americans it is a religious right defined as a covenant between a man, a woman and God. Since the Federal government should have no role in dictating religious affairs, I believe from a Federal and civil perspective, "civil union" should be used as the government's definition for all such relationships, including marriage."

Gillibrand for Senate? Maybe. Maybe Not. [Gay Hudson]

Seriously? More church marriage/civil marriage marriage? From another US senator? ::sigh::

To be fair, the Gay Hudson site does have her coming down on the right side on other matters of LGBT concern (anti-discrimination and hate crimes legislation, for instance). But many queer residents of a state where FULL marriage equality is so tantalizingly close were certainly hoping for someone who would help us further that particular conversation on a national scene. So yea, right now this sounds a tad disappointing on that front.

**UPDATE: Here's a snippet from an interview that Kirsten recently gave to Hudson Valley's Inside Out. Her marriage view is much more fully explained in this one:

IO: A decent portion of our readers are gay. What’s your position on same-sex marriage?

Gillibrand: What I’d like to do legislatively, on the federal level—and I think we’ll be able to do this with the new president—is actually make civil unions legal in all 50 states, make it the law of the land. Because what you want to fundamentally do is protect the rights and privileges of committed couples, so that they can have Medicare benefits, visit in the hospitals, have adoption rights. All [the] things that we give to married couples, committed gay couples should be eligible for. And then the question of whether you call it a marriage or not, what you label it, that can be left to the states to decide.
[It’s] so culturally oriented. My mom’s generation, they want their gay friends to have every right and privilege that they should be eligible for as a married couple, but they feel uncomfortable calling it marriage. To them, a marriage is a religious word that they learned from the Catholic Church: It’s a covenant between a man, a woman, and God. So they feel uncomfortable with the word. But they don’t feel uncomfortable with the rights and privileges.
I think the way you win this issue is you focus on getting the rights and privileges protected throughout the entire country, and then you do the state-by-state advocacy for having the title.
Kirsten Gillibrand [Inside Out]

We get what she's trying to do, we really do. And we appreciate her efforts on a federal level. But still, it's that handing the word "marriage" over to churches thing that makes us very uncomfortable.

**ALSO: She has an 80% on HRC's congressional scorecard, failing to support HRC's position in these four areas:

-Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1246)
Members of Congress were asked to co-sponsor legislation, introduced on Feb. 28, 2007, that would repeal the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy that denies lesbian, gay and bisexual soldiers the right to serve their country openly. As of Oct. 3, 2008, the measure had 149 co-sponsors: Democrats 146; Republicans 3.

-Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act (H.R. 1820)
Members of Congress were asked to co-sponsor legislation, introduced on March 29, 2007, that would equalize tax treatment for employer-provided health coverage for domestic partners and other non-spouse, non-dependent beneficiaries. As of Oct. 3, 2008, the measure had 120 co-sponsors: Democrats 116; Republicans 4.

-Uniting American Families Act (H.R. 2221)
Members of Congress were asked to co-sponsor legislation, introduced on May 8, 2007, that would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the same immigration benefits that legal spouses of U.S. permanent residents enjoy. As of Oct. 3, 2008, the measure had 119 co-sponsors: Democrats 118; Republicans 1.

-Early Treatment for HIV Act (H.R. 3326)
Members of Congress were asked to co-sponsor legislation, introduced on Aug. 2, 2007, that would permit state Medicaid programs to
cover low-income, HIV-positive Americans before they develop AIDS. As of Oct. 3, 2008, the measure had 169 co-sponsors: Democrats
140; Republicans 29.

**ALSO: She is a member of the Blue Dog Democrats, a conservative Dem club.

**ALSO: She's earned an "A" rating with the NRA.

**More musings: Wayne Barrett: Is Gillibrand Too Republican to Replace Clinton? [Village Voice]
McCarthy knocks Gillibrand as choice for Senate [Newsday]
Why Gov. Paterson Should Have Named Lesbian Randi Weingarten to the Senate [Queerty]

***UPDATE, 1/23: Empire State Pride Agenda brings us a different story on Kirsten: ESPA on Kirsten: We like her, we really like her [G-A-Y]

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Your thoughts

That's such a cop-out. The federal government already defines marriage for all government purposes. If it is defined for some it should be defined for all. Pandering.

Posted by: SammySeattle | Jan 22, 2009 8:07:14 PM

She's my Congresswoman and would make a fine Senator.

Her position on marriage, according to what you've published, is actually mine as well. Civil Unions for gay and straight from the government. Marriage in the Church, which doesn't preclude gays from marrying in a gay-affirming church.

Posted by: Gavin | Jan 22, 2009 8:19:18 PM

"which doesn't preclude gays from marrying in a gay-affirming church."

Gays are not precluded from having a "married in the eyes of God" ceremony even now. Pro-equality churches can hold whatever kind of ceremony they want. So what you are suggesting is changing the civil marriage system to a civil unions system for all? WHY?! Why not just open up the civil marriage system as it exists to gay and lesbian couples?!

The bottom line is that religious ceremony is already an ancillary (if oft-utilized) concept. What we are talking about is CIVIL marriage. I will be legally married in CT June of '09, and never in any part of it will there be a mention of God.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 22, 2009 8:30:05 PM

But that being said , Gavin, I don't mean to imply that I think she will be a bad senator simply because of her marriage stance. I adore Secretary Clinton despite her failure to come fully around on this issue. I'm just saying that many of us were hoping for growth on this matter, something that was realistic with Caroline Kennedy (despite any other faults).

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 22, 2009 8:36:44 PM

It's a question of "Holy" Matrimony and "Wholly" Matrimony. Speaking for myself, I could give a rat's ass about the former. "Holey" Matrimony, just for clarification, is when you have a prenuptial agreement!

Posted by: Dick Mills | Jan 22, 2009 8:43:19 PM

The next senatorial election for New York is next year isn't it? I think we might be able to get the ENDA and the hate crimes expansion out of her, then give her the boot.

Posted by: RainbowPhoenix | Jan 22, 2009 8:44:41 PM

I'm not at all sure what's wrong with her position. Civil unions for EVERYBODY, both gay and straight people. Let the churches have their word and return the rule of law to a SECULAR value.

Why would this not be progress?

Posted by: Alex | Jan 22, 2009 8:51:10 PM

Alex: Well for one, it's simply not gonna happen. Marriage is already the currency we use on a civil level. An atheist couple who marries with a JP is just as married in the eyes of the government as is a couple who throws a lavish wedding ceremony in St. Patrick's Cathedral. There is absolutely no reason to hand over the word "marriage" to the churches and to set up an alternate institution when the religious ceremony part is already a non-essential element to what we gay activists are seeking: CIVIL MARRIAGE.

Whenever this particular stance is brought out, it's most always a political way to stop short of what is right but to also sound queer supportive. Would they ever suggest weeding out the hetero couples who were not married in churches and putting them in a separate "civil unions" camp were it not for the issue of same-sex marriage equality? No.

But that all being said: This is of course not to say that this, a popular Dem position, makes her some sort of anti-gay monster. In no way shape or form. It's just to say that we were hoping for someone who would take the conversation to the next level, as many potential candidates for the job would do.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 22, 2009 8:57:14 PM

"it is a religious right"

I hope the senator herself understands the difference between the religious *right* and a religious *rite*.

Posted by: David Strauss | Jan 22, 2009 9:18:45 PM

David: Yes, that language troubled me as well. However, since it's apparently been transcribed onto the GayHudson website from a hard document, I want to make sure it's not a typo before commenting on it. I've written the GayHudson writer to see if he or she can scan in the doc.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 22, 2009 9:37:13 PM

KO reported her choice too, if you consider him MSM.

Posted by: LOrion | Jan 22, 2009 10:20:23 PM

So the government should sanction a "religious affair" but at the same time not be involved in religion?

Umm, huh?

Posted by: Jake | Jan 22, 2009 11:25:33 PM

Everyone: See the latest update on the post. It more fully explains her marriage position. It's similar, but a little better than what we initially saw.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 22, 2009 11:41:36 PM

This is off topic, but the AFA has issued an action alert for their sheep to e-mail President Obama/White House to complain about his support for women's rights and gay rights.

We should probably counter with positive e-mails to whitehouse.gov


Posted by: Josh | Jan 23, 2009 1:58:08 AM

"The discussion of using the term marriage is more complicated because for many Americans it is a religious right defined as a covenant between a man, a woman and God."

In that case, the new Senator should start campaigning NOW to get the word "marriage" excised from civil law. It's used in family, probate and tax law; it isn't just a warm-fuzzy expression favored by the religious and the wedding industry. That's going to come back and bite same-sex couples in the ass big time.

Stupid bitch.

Posted by: Bobs Friend | Jan 23, 2009 11:02:12 AM

"Stupid bitch."

Hoo-ray for misogyny!

Posted by: Alex | Jan 23, 2009 12:36:13 PM

Yea, seriously Bobs Friend: There's no excuse for using those words. And in fact, there's really no reason to attack her personally AT ALL.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 23, 2009 1:15:00 PM

Then remove the comment; it's your blog and your prerogative. I'm not retracting it.

Posted by: Bobs Friend | Jan 24, 2009 2:22:44 PM

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