New York Gov. David Paterson is reportedly all set to appoint upstate two-term Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to Hillary Clinton's vacant Senate seat. My first thought was that Paterson made a bold choice in favor of youth, smarts, and policy chops over connectedness (Andrew Cuomo) or interest group support (Carolyn Maloney). But if you delve deeper into Gillibrand's record, you'll find there are some red flags in terms of civil rights issues.
It is no surprise that Gillibrand identifies as a Blue Dog and voted against the Wall Street bailout; those positions, while hardly courageous, are to be expected from a Democrat who narrowly won a district that voted 54 percent for Bush in 2004. But Gillibrand's careful centrism goes beyond mere signals of economic populism. She opposed former Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to offer driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, and supports proposed federal legislation that would require proof of citizenship to obtain a license. On gay rights, Gillibrand scores 80 percent according to the Human Rights Campaign, the lowest score of any New York Democrat. Politicker New York sums her record up, and it's nothing to be proud of:
According to the Human Rights Campaign, she voted against the repealing of “Don’ Ask, Don’t Tell” legislation, 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.
In this light, Maloney, who isn't known for her legislative rigor, suddenly looks far more attractive. The New York City congresswoman is hardly the most prominent member of the House, but she has staked out a few issues that matter to her, among them LGBT rights and women's issues. Maloney is the sponsor, for example, of legislation that would extend family-medical leave rights to gay couples.
Thoughts on the developing situation in New York?