Gay rights entered the rough world of Hartford politics last week when the Family Intitute of Connecticut urged its supporters to support state Rep. Minnie Gonzalez’s slate in a bitter Third District Democratic Town Committee election scheduled for Tuesday. The anti-gay rights group also told its supporters to work against openly gay state Rep. Evelyn Mantilla’s Fourth District slate.

FIC Executive Director Brian Brown could not be reached for comment Monday, but in an action email his group called Mantilla the “single most pro same-sex ‘marriage’ lawmaker in the entire state legislature.“Mantilla voted against the civil union law last year, saying anything short of marriage did not go far enough. In contrast, Gonzalez voted against it out of pure opposition.“Minnie voted against the legalization of same-sex civil unions and even joined with a few Republicans in attaching an amendment to the bill defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” the email said.Gonzalez refused to discuss FIC’s support for her slate. Town committee elections become important in single-party cities like Hartford, because whoever can install their supporters on that body automatically becomes a heavy favorite for the party’s nomination, and thus election to office.The FIC email paints Mayor Eddie Perez as a major driver behind Mantilla’s candidacy and the opposition to Gonzalez.“The Latino political community is a rising force in our nation’s politics,” the email said. “For this reason, a battle is being waged between pro-family, pro-life Latinos ‘for whom faith in God is a key component of civic participation’ and those, like Mayor Perez…who seek to remake their community into a reflection of the Democratic Party’s pro-abortion/pro same-sex ‘marriage’ secular elites.“Mantilla is not surprised by FIC’s stand, saying she has faced anti-gay sentiment throughout her career in public office. “This is nothing new,” she said. In terms of tangible opposition, though, Mantilla said she has not seen a presence from the FIC on the street. Instead, Mantilla views the FIC as an “afterthought,” because her main opponent in the town committee race, Elizabeth Villanueva, has been after Mantilla’s seat for two years.