Exclusive: Gays Rebuff Hillary

In an email to his board members obtained by The Politicker, the head of New York State’s leading gay rights group describes Hillary Clinton as a “disappointment” on same-sex marraige, and suggests gays and lesbians stop giving money to her campaign.

In the February 10 email, marked “confidential,” Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the influential, well-funded Empire State Pride Agenda, says he’s refusing to “lend my name and sell tickets” to a gay-oriented fundraiser for Hillary’s reelection.

“Let me begin by stating that I believe Hillary Clinton has served the people of New York well in the United States Senate and that she deserves re-election,” he writes. “My vote for Senator Clinton will come despite her regrettable statements on the issue of marriage for same-sex couples and her current support for DOMA.”

She is, he writes “a complete disappointment and does not deserve an LGBT fundraiser.”

Reached this afternoon, Van Capelle confirmed that he’d sent the email but declined to elaborate on it.

These are the shifting sands of the same-sex marriage issue. A few years ago, Howard Dean was a hero for signing separate-but-equal civil union legislation. A generation of Democrats is basically committed to protecting “traditional marriage,” and trying to make up the difference in the politically active, donor-rich gay community with support for a wide range of domestic-partner benefits, along with legislation on everything from hate crimes to AIDS research. And increasingly, that’s not enough for gay Democrats.

In that context, Van Capelle’s letter marks something of a turning point for mainstream gay rights groups: Marriage is now make-or-break.

“This year Eliot Spitzer, David Patterson, Alan Hevesi, Andrew Cuomo, Mark Green, Sean Maloney and others are running for statewide office and are in favor of marriage equality for gays and lesbians. When our struggle is over, they will be recorded as being on the right side of history and as of now Hillary Clinton will not be with them,” Van Capelle writes, adding:

“Supporting an LGBT fundraiser for Hillary Clinton will actually hurt our community. It will send a message to other elected officials that you can be working against us during this critical time and not suffer a negative pushback from the gay community. We have become a community that throws money at politicians and we demand nothing in return. And that’s what we get — nothing. It’s the wrong message to send.”