Crowd Heckles Ford Jr. On Gay Marriage Stance
Possible U.S. Senate candidate Harold Ford Junior received an icy welcome Wednesday from a leading gay Democratic club over what he called misguided votes on same sex marriage. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
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Harold Ford Junior got a verbally mixed reception Wednesday night in the West Village.
While speaking to the Stonewall Democratic Club, some audience members held up signs that read "Liar." Others interrupted him on several occasions chanting "Anti-Choice, Anti-Gay, Shame on Harry, Go Away!"
At issue is Ford's voting record as a Tennessee congressman, where he twice supported an amendment to the constitution that would bar same sex marriage.
Eyeing office in New York now, he said he was wrong. To many, the gesture oozed insincere politics -- and they let him know it.
"I voted twice in favor of it and I was wrong. I now recognize the wrongness of my ways," said Ford Junior.
"Here's somebody who took very anti-gay positions, and took very Republican positions and joined with the Bush White House in trying to make us political scape goats, and that's why people are so angry, that's why so people are so hostile," said gay rights activist Jeffrey Campagna.
Though Ford denied it Wednesday, activists have accused him of misleading Tennessee voters when the amendments were being debated.
Two gay activists in Memphis said in telephone interviews Wednesday that Ford's office had informed them he was voting against the amendment.
Adding fuel to charges of insincerity is a heavily-circulated ad from his failed 2006 Senate race in Tennessee in which he touts his stance against gay marriage.
While the record isn't entirely clear, Gillibrand insists says she has supported same sex marriage since she entered the House of Representatives to represent a conservative upstate district.
What is clear is that she has been a forceful supporter of gay rights since Governor David Paterson tapped her to fill the Senate seat early last year.
"It's very problematic to vote to enshrine in the Constitution discrimination. And I find that extremely problematic," said Gillibrand.
Ford's remarks Wednesday were the most extensive on the fateful votes and comes as he realizes the strength of the gay vote in a Democratic primary.
During an appearance last month upstate, Ford reiterated his stance saying, "My support for civil unions is longstanding. I support same sex marriage. And if you want to ask me more about it, I'm probably not going to answer the question."
Ford is expected to make a decision this Sunday as to whether or not he intends to seek New York's junior Senate seat.