Kirsten E. Gillibrand, the upstate New York Democratic congresswoman chosen to fill the Senate seat vacated earlier this week by Hillary Rodham Clinton, is a gay rights proponent. Gillibrand is the first, and only, New York Senator to support gay marriage.

New York Governor David Paterson announced Gillibrand his pick at a Friday press conference.

In her acceptance speech, Gillibrand said: “I will advocate for marriage equality.”

President Obama lauded the choice, saying Paterson had made a “wonderful choice.”

“During her career, Kirsten has been a strong voice for transparency and reform in government and shares the belief that government should be open, accessible and work for all of our citizens,” Obama said in a statement.

Clinton echoed similar sentiments: “Today I congratulate Kirsten Gillibrand on her appointment by Gov. Paterson to serve as senator from New York. Kirsten is an intelligent and dedicated public servant and a dear friend. I'm pleased that this seat, which has been my great honor to hold, and which has in its history been held by leaders like former Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Robert F. Kennedy, will be in such capable hands.”

Gillibrand won her 20th district seat in 2006 by defeating incumbent Republican John Sweeney. Just before Election Day, Sweeney accused her of fabricating a leaked police report that showed Sweeney's wife had called police to report a domestic violence incident against her husband. Gillibrand won with 53% of the vote.

The New York gay rights lobby Empire State Pride Agenda is confident Gillibrand is an advocate for gay rights. Friday, the group released a statement congratulating Gillibrand.

“Finally, the great state of New York has a U.S. Senator who supports marriage equality for same-sex couples,” Alan Van Capelle, the group's executive director said. “Kirsten Gillibrand also supports the full repeal of the federal DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) law, repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT, the military's gay ban) and passage of legislation outlawing discrimination against transgender people.”

Van Capelle said he spoke by telephone with Gillibrand Thursday evening. Concerning that conversation, he told the New York Times: “She spoke eloquently about the 1,324 rights that are denied to same-sex couples in New York.”

An aide to Gillibrand has confirmed that she supports gay marriage.