The New York Times published an extensive interview with potential New York Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. which includes discussion of his anti-gay votes on marriage, and his recent sudden announcement that he changed his mind and is a supporter:
A. I can say up until 2003, most organizations and national
organization that had an office in Washington dedicated to fighting for
equality for Americans, I enjoyed broad support and big support from
them. The marriage votes drove my ratings down considerably, and
arguably rightly so. I have been a supporter of civil unions. My
opponent raised the issue on the campaign trail in Tennessee.
As the presidential race unfolded, one of the things I recognized during the campaign: My position on same-sex marriage
resembles President Obama’s over the years. Frankly, up until maybe a
year ago, that of the senior senator in the state, Senator Schumer, who
was opposed to same-sex marriage.
Q. Where are you now?
I am for gay marriage. Or same-sex marriage. I don’t want to say it the
wrong way. I think people are sensitive to it. I have been painted as
being this right-wing zealot on choice. Nothing could be further from
the truth. I think there are legitimate questions around my support for
Q. Let’s focus on your two votes to ban same-sex marriage. Can you explain that? Walk me through that.
The last three years, think about what has transpired. How many states
have either courts and or legislatures that have declared same-sex
marriage is acceptable in their states? There has been a robust debate.
don’t think it’s a great leap to go from civil unions to gay marriage —
I may be in the minority in believing that. But I don’t think there is.
Long before I arrived in New York, my commitment to issues of fairness
and equality are clear and obvious and unmistakable. And in light of
that, and consistent with that, according the same rights that a couple
were married, versus the rights provided by civil unions, I don’t
believe the difference is that great. I understand that in certain
communities it’s not viewed on equal footing. But my change, or my
maturation to that point….
Q. What changed for you?
Understand, I did not start at zero and get to 10. I started at 8. This
is my point: I think some of the press accounts of my record have been
distorted or just been wrong. People make it sound as if — let’s go
back to the votes in the Congress.
Q. Do you regret those votes, then?
I have been in politics for 14 years. I was elected back in 1996 …
over the 14 years, have I learned and have I listened? Absolutely.
Understand, Michael, I did not go from zero to 10. I was for civil
unions and believed strongly that the flow of benefits and protections
that would be provided in a civil union for same-sex couples, the
decisions that have to be made, when health hardships are faced, when
economic hardships are faced, I wanted all of those protections. I
never strayed from them. It was just the issue of marriage, that
particularly over the last three years, I have come to understand
Started at 8? Imho, the federal marriage amendment votes put him back at zero.
He also knows the five boroughs of New York City because he briefly landed in them by helicopter.