Lesbian politician may replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

If Senator Hillary Clinton accepts the post of US Secretary of State as expected later this week, she will create a vacancy that will be filled by an appointment by New York’s Governor.

The frontrunners to represent the state in the US Senate until a special election in 2010 are Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo – some have even suggested former President Bill Clinton might be a candidate.

One of America’s most prominent lesbian politicians is also under consideration.

If Governor Paterson chose to appoint Christine Quinn to take Senator Clinton’s place it would send a strong message about his commitment to gay rights.

He took office in March after the resignation of Eliot Spritzer and he is the first African-American to be Governor of the state and the first blind Governor in US history.

He wants gay marriage in New York and in May he told state agencies to recognise gay marriages from outside the state, after a court ruling.

Ms Quinn is the first female New York City Council Speaker and was tipped to run for Mayor next year, but state politicians voted to change the rules to allow Mr Bloomberg (and themselves) to run for a third term.

The role of the Speaker is to act as a check and balance to the executive authority of the Mayor.

It is a similar position to the chairman of the London Assembly.

In her 2006 acceptance speech Ms Quinn wept several times, thanking her father and her partner, Kim Catullo who were sitting in the public gallery.

She came to international attention in 2006 for refusing to march in the New York St Patrick’s Day parade because it banned gay groups from participating.

The New York parade is organised by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish-Catholic fraternal organisation.

They have refused to allow gay and lesbian groups to march in the parade since 1991.

After becoming council speaker Ms Quinn, who is Irish-American, tried to make a deal with the organisers of the event. In 2007 she chose to march in Dublin instead.

Senator Clinton will have to undergo hearings to confirm her appointment, after which she will resign her Senate seat.

She has represented New York since 2000, and won re-election in 2006.