Sen. Hillary Clinton will not stand in the way of New York's governor and legislature if they want to enact a same-sex marriage law, though it is not the position she supports, the New York Democrat who is running for re-election said today in Syracuse, N.Y.
Clinton said that she favors civil unions, not same-sex marriage.
"I put forth my position, which is in favor of civil unions," Clinton said. "But the political process will decide what New Yorkers want to do."
Gay marriage has become a hot issue in New York because the Democratic candidate for governor, Eliot Spitzer, who is well ahead in the polls, has pledged to sign a bill legalizing gay marriage.
When Clinton campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Hanley was asked by ABC News whether the senator would vote for a same-sex marriage law if she were in the New York State Legislature, Hanley said: "She's not going to answer a hypothetical like that."
Clinton's spokeswoman would also not say whether the former first lady would consider New York's enactment of a same-sex marriage law a step in the right or wrong direction.
On Wednesday, Clinton told a group of gay and lesbian leaders: "I think that it should be in the political process and people make a decision and if our governor and our legislature support [gay] marriage in New York, I'm not going to be against that."
The senator's comments came in response to Larry Moss, a Democratic state committeeman, who asked her: "How do we keep your words from being cover for conservative Democrats who want to compromise with Eliot and say, 'Just say do civil unions?'"
Clinton answered by saying of herself and New York's other senator, Democrat Chuck Schumer: "I feel very comfortable with being able to refute anybody who tries to pit us or pit me against Eliot."
Clinton's remarks from Wednesday were quoted Thursday in a story by Paul Schindler in the Gay City News, and were confirmed to ABC News by Clinton's spokeswoman.