The state Democratic Party teamed up today with LGBT leaders and openly gay elected officials to slam Republican AG candidate Dan Donovan for his opposition to same-sex marriage, saying his position calls into question his ability to serve as the state’s top attorney.

“The issue is a critical one in the race for Attorney General,” the release states.

“Just last week, a federal judge reversed California’s same sex marriage ban thanks, in part, to a brief filed by the California Attorney General Jerry Brown. And attorneys general across the country have played a prominent role in promoting marriage equality, including in New York where Andrew Cuomo has defended the recognition of same-sex marriages performed out of state.

“For years, Donovan has avoided public comment on same-sex marriage, which is not mentioned anywhere on his campaign Website.”

The party’s press release features quotes, which all appear after the jump, from:

Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Ross Levi, HRC Campaign for New York Marriage strategist Brian Ellner, RWDSU President Stu Appelbaum, Stonewall Democratic Club President Joe Hagelmann, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick (Manhattan), Assemblyman Matt Titone (Staten Island), and Queens NYC Councilmen Daniel Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer.

Donovan’s campaign spokeswoman Virginia Lam told me the last time the Dems his the Staten Island DA on this issue – just after the Prop. 8 decision – that Donovan believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, but also “will ensure that the laws of our state are enforced,” adding:

“If a marriage equality act is passed by the State Legislature, not only will Dan protect everyone’s right to marriage, but he will also prosecute any person(s) that tries to impede or infringe upon those rights.”

It’s worth noting that former AG Eliot Spitzer, who supports same-sex marriage, nevertheless defended the state when it was sued on this issue – a move that upset some in the LGBT community.

In 2004, Spitzer issued a legal opinion that while New York law does not permit same-sex couples to marry, it must recognize legal same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

When Spitzer was elected governor, he introduced a program bill to legalize gay marriage. The measure was subsequently championed by Gov. David Paterson, who called this issue the next great civil rights battle, after he ascended to replace Spitzer.

AGs can recuse themselves from cases and seek outside counsel for a variety of reasons. The practice is standard, for example, when one branch of government sues another. Democratic AG contender Eric Dinallo said during a recent candidate forum that there are “just certain things I will not do,” and declined to elaborate. Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, another of the five Democratic AG candidates, took issue with that.

“Now that Dan Donovan has come out in opposition to marriage equality we certainly question his commitment to fairness and his ability to represent all New Yorkers and their families,” said Ross Levi, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda.

“I’m disappointed that anyone running for Attorney General in New York would stand in opposition to fundamental fairness and equality. Perhaps Mr. Donovan should read the Proposition 8 decision — there is simply no basis for opposing marriage equality other than bias or animus. He is unfit for this critical office — one that is charged with defending and protecting the civil rights of all New Yorkers,” said Brian Ellner, Senior Strategist, HRC Campaign for New York Marriage.

“Unlike all the Democratic candidates for Attorney General, Republican Dan Donovan would pursue a policy of discrimination against members of the LGBT community. That should be unacceptable to all New Yorkers,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President, RWDSU.

“We are not the least bit surprised that Dan Donovan believes marriage should be restricted to heterosexual couples. LGBTQ New Yorkers learned long ago not to expect the GOP to take a pro-civil rights position. They voted in lockstep against Marriage Equality in the State Senate, and we would not expect the Republican Party’s candidate for Attorney General to be any different. We hope that the Democrat who is best qualified to win the battle for equality will be elected in the Primary and emerge victorious in November,” said Joseph G. Hagelmann, III, President-Stonewall Democratic Club of NYC.

“New Yorkers, committed to a fair and just society, need an Attorney General who personally supports marriage equality. Dan Donovan’s grudging comments about enforcing the law ring hollow,” said Assembly Member Deborah J. Glick (66th AD-Manhattan), the first openly gay legislator in NYS history.

“It’s disappointing that any candidate for Attorney General would believe that equal justice and equality under the law applies to some New York State citizens and not to all,” said Assembly Member Matt Titone (61st AD-Staten Island).

“Dan Donovan should know better. Separate but equal doesn’t work. Equality means just that, equal. What is it that Dan Donovan doesn’t get about equality? We expect more from an Attorney General than just a promise to uphold the law. Dan Donovan should be taking a proactive stance to fight for equality for all New Yorkers,” said New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm (25th CD-Jackson Heights).

“Rather than speaking up and speaking out against discrimination in all its forms, after years of silence on same sex marriages, Donovan has chosen to oppose equal rights for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. Tolerant voters across the state simply won’t stand for that this November,” said NYC Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer (26th CD-Sunnyside).