Gay campaigners have reacted angrily to the appointment of Mel Martinez as leader of the Republican Party.

The Florida Senator was appointment as head of the Republican National Committee this week, but activists fear this will cause another rift in the relationship between the Republicans and the gay community.

Last weeks mid-terms saw a political gain for the Democrats, partly because of discontent at the Republican’s alignment with the Christian right and anti-gay laws.

Joe Solmonese , president of the Human Rights Campaign, says Mr Martinez is an inappropriate choice, after he has opposed hate crime laws and supports a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Mr Solmonese said: “For him to be tapped as the head of the Republican Party sends yet another message to our community and the country that the Republican leadership is continuing their old ways of rewarding slash-and-burn politics instead of being interested in uniting the country.”