Hillary Clinton still banking on gay support despite gay marriage row

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Ticket sales for a gay and lesbian fund-raising event for Hillary Clinton have remained high despite a high profile row concerning the New York senator’s views on gay marriage.

Mrs Clinton, the former first lady and wife of President Bill Clinton is widely believed to be considering standing to become the Democrat’s nominee for the next Presidential election.

Alan Van Capelle, a leading gay rights activist, who represents the Empire State Pride Agenda, said Mrs Clinton was “a complete disappointment” over her opposition to same-sex marriage and her support for a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

In a memo to board members he said that he refused to “lend my name and sell tickets” to any event raising funds for Mrs Clinton’s campaign to be re-elected as a senator, and eventually to seek the nomination of the Democrat party. He said supporting such fund-raisers for Mrs Clinton would “actually hurt” the gay and lesbian community.

The memo which appeared on the New York Observer website said: “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 push back 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.”

Organisers of the event insist that Mr Van Capelle’s comments would not reduce interest in the fund-raising event. Tickets are being sold at $500 (£290) per person.

Mrs Clinton’s supporters in the gay community claim that no candidate for President will be able to declare support for gay marriage. “In the 2008 cycle, I don’t think any candidate can come out and say, ‘I am for gay marriage,”‘ said Ethan Geto, an organiser of the event. “Take Hillary Clinton and compare her to any national Democrat with presidential potential. She’s staked out very progressive turf here.”

Mrs Clinton supports civil unions, a similar system to the British civil partnership scheme, gay marriage in all but name. However, she continues to support the Defence of Marriage Act, enacted by her husband that maintains that marriages must be between partners of the opposite sex.

Mrs Clinton opposes moves to create a constitutional amendment that permanently rules out gay marriage.