January 11, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
Ford comes out for same-sex marriage

A potential Democratic U.S. Senate candidate who came under fire for his opposition to same-sex marriage is now in support of marriage rights for gay couples.

Harold Ford. Jr., a former U.S. House member who represented Tennessee in Congress from 1997 to 2007, announced his support for same-sex marriage — as well as civil unions — in an appearance Monday on NBC’s “Today Show.”

When host Matt Lauer asked Ford whether he supports same-sex marriage, Ford replied, “Civil unions and same-sex marriage, yes.”

Ford represented Tennessee when he served as a House member, but has reportedly been living in New York for three years, and is considering a primary challenge to oust Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) as the Democratic nominee before the November election.

When his potential candidacy was first reported, LGBT activists criticized Ford for his previous opposition to same-sex marriage and for taking on Gillibrand, who is known for having been a proponent of LGBT issues since she took office in the Senate.

According to the New York Post, Ford said on “The Today Show” he now supports gay nuptials because they’re the best way to keep benefits flowing to same-sex couples.

Saying he supported civil unions when he first ran for Congress in 1996, Ford said, “My support for fairness and equality existed long before I moved to New York.”

Prior to Ford’s appearance on the Today Show, the Post reported earlier on Monday about the potential candidate’s new support for same-sex marriage.

“He supports gay marriage, in the interest of fairness and equality,” Ford spokesperson Davidson Goldin reportedly told the Post.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

4 Comments
  • Harold Ford is a decent man and I am pleased to see that he has now come out in favor of Same-sex marriage. I know he was brought up in a home where it was recognized that diversity was a good thing and all people should be respected. I know his mother has always been a friend to the GLBT community and has many gay friends. I am proud to be one of them.

    I believe that if Harold Ford does run and win a NY Senate seat he will be a good friend to the GLBT community.

  • Ford is a complete opportunist changing his spots to suit the venue. In Tenn he was a homophobe. Now he says he is for marriage equality. Don’t believe it.
    If we want an alternative for NY senator let’s find a genuine progressive – not a political chameleon like Ford.

  • Peter’s name-dropping notwithstanding, Charles is right. During his unsuccessful 2006 U.S. Senate race against Bob Corker in Tennessee, Ford supported that state’s anti-gay ballot initiative. He attacked the New Jersey Supreme Court decision on marriage (which came out on Oct. 25 of that year), and boasted of having voted twice for the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment. In the 107th Congress — which is to say, before he decided to run for the Senate — Ford earned a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign congressional scorecard. Then he suddenly got less friendly, earning HRC scores of 25 and 44 in the 109th and 108th Congresses, respectively. He may be a decent man, but his reliability as a politician leaves much to be desired.

  • Jon Rybka-Wachhaus

    I have to laugh about the whole thing. Maybe his move to NY oepned his eyes and now he “sees the light” blah blah blah. Or maybe he is just a closet case. Et tu Ford?

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