Is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Your Next Civil Rights Hero?


It’s a loaded question, we’ll admit that. But since taking over Hillary Clinton‘s U.S. Senate seat, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has not been silent on LGBT rights. Whatever her legislative legacy becomes — will she help kill DADT? DOMA? — she will be known for this Ted Kennedy-esque quality: Continuing to speak up in America’s most powerful circles about a group of people still treated as second-class.

Gillibrand was immediately welcomed by gay rights organizations, despite a Congressional record that didn’t exactly match her self-professed unrequited support for the Gs. But now that she’s in the Senate, she’s leading the charge to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. She’s calling for the repeal of DOMA, along with her Senate colleagues. She’s championing ENDA. She might have even had a part in helping colleague Sen. Chuck Schumer come around on gay marriage and DOMA. (Okay, it also helps that Clinton — not a full gay rights supporter — is no longer running for president.) And in this interview with Towleroad at the LGBT Community Center event in NYC over the weekend, she says she’s on board with amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include gays in an all-encompassing anti-discrimination bill. (At the same event, she told a bi-national couple that she’s on board with including the Uniting American Families Act in current immigration reform.)

With Sen. Kennedy’s death, we are without a Senate stalwart to apply continued pressure on the White House to simply do what’s right. Gillibrand, as a junior senator, does not carry that influence. And facing re-election in 2010, it’s possible her efforts could end in the next 12 months. But if we must be without Kennedy in what we hope is the last throws of this civil rights struggle, having Gillibrand on board as an ally isn’t a terrible position to be in.

But perhaps her greatest asset, particularly if Washington places her in the backseat of power circles? That she keeps talking, and talking, and talking about us.

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  • TimNCGuy

    Can anyone actually answer this question???

    Who is REALLY leading the charge to repeal DADT?

    I was under the impression that Gillibrand was. It was reportee long ago that she was taking over sponsorship of the bill to repeal DADT in the senate.

    But, more recently we heard the announcement that the White House had tapped Lieberman to lead the charge on the repeal of DADT.

    So, what is the REAL story here? Are the two of them now co-sponsors of a bill in the senate to repeal DADT? Or, has the White House asked Gillibrand to step aside for Lieberman?

    Even here on Queerty the “sponsorship” of the senate repeal for DADT has been “reported” both ways as being Gillibrand at one point, then Lieberman, now Gillibrand again.

    So boys, which is it?

  • The Swimmer

    Funny, you never hear about the HRC talk about the Uniting American Families Act or even including it on their “scorecard.” Despite it being a very important bill my guess is Joe Solmonese is standing up for his white heteronormative constituents in saying that we don’t need immigration rights since its just a bunch of brown people wanting to be with the person they love.

  • Brian NJ

    She is a great American because unlike the HRC, she is demanding the government answer questions on the failure to repeal DADT. She is the only Democrat with any balls to undue Hillbilly Bill’s hate legislation.

  • shelly

    Acting Senator Gillibrand is hiding from her record as a Congresswoman. She has a pro-gun, anti-stimulus record and now she claims to be a pro-Obama supporter. She has been totally inconsistent and is not to be politically trusted. We haven’t seen or heard from her in a year. Now, she has turned into a pro-Obama lacky to be politically expedient. I will not vote for her under any circumstances.

  • Garrett B

    I think Patrick Murphy is our next champion. Granted he’s in the house and doesn’t have much influence. But, him being an Iraq vet and opposing DADT so fervently is more than almost anyone else I see.

  • hardmannyc

    “She has a pro-gun, anti-stimulus record”

    What does that have to do with our rights?

Comments are closed.