The Empire State Pride Agenda, New York’s largest LGBT organization, is poised to make its first endorsement in a statewide race, throwing its support behind Sen. Eric Schneiderman’s bid to replace Andrew Cuomo in the attorney general’s office.

“Eric Schneiderman has been a tireless advocate for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender New Yorkers and our families, said ESPA Executive Director Ross D. Levi.

“During his tenure in the State Senate, he has always been there for us, going above and beyond just voting for our rights, whether advocating for us in his district, marshaling pro-LGBT votes or leading floor debates on marriage equality.”

“He is exactly what we need in a statewide elected official.”

Levi cited Schneiderman’s vote in suopport of the Hate Crimes Bill and the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA), his lead sponsorship of the Dignity for All Students Act, which passed the Senate in June, 58-3, and his sponsorship of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA).

Schneiderman has been working to lock down support in the LGBT community as the Sept. 14 primary approaches. He has been endorsed by Marriage Equality New York, the Stonewall Democrats of New York City, Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats (GLID), Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens and Lambda Independent Democrats (LID), NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn and openly LGBT Council Members Rosie Mendez, Jimmy Van Bramer and Danny Dromm.

(Actually, MENY PAC praised all five AG contenders back in June, but said two of them – Schneiderman and Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice – stood out “above the rest” for their support of LGBT rights.

Rice was the first of the AG candidates to promise to sue the federal government over the Defense of Marriage Act – an issue that has risen to a new level of significance, given the decision by a federal judge yesterday on California’s Prop. 8.

Schneiderman later did pledged to do the same and also said he’s prepared to sue schools and school districts if they ignore bullying and harassment of LGBT students.

ESPA has been making some interesting endorsements of late, backing a number of Democratic primary challengers against Senate incumbents who voted “no” on marriage last December. (Levi has insisted the organization’s endorsements are not made based on a single issue, but it’s hard not to notice all the incumbents on whom it took a pass are same-sex marriage opponents).

The decision to back Schneiderman is an interesting one, especially since Cuomo has made it clear he would prefer someone not of Albany – in other words, neither Schneiderman nor his fellow state lawmaker AG contender, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky – to succeed him as AG.

Cuomo has insisted gay marriage will be a priority for him during the first year of his tenure if he’s elected governor. But his record on LGBT issues has drawn some criticism. (It should be noted that ESPA jumped to the AG’s defense, with Levi saying he has long been a dedicated ally).