New York LGBT activists do not welcome the news that anti-gay, anti-choice former Tennessee congressman Harold Ford Jr—who voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, for the Federal Marriage Amendment and did not support extending hate crime protections to gays—is considering a primary challenge to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan van Capelle describes Ford's candidacy as "disturbing":
Ford supports a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. In fact, he voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment both times it reached the House floor. He has also gone out of his way to condemn court rulings (New Jersey’s, for example) that called for equal treatment under the law for same-sex couples. During his last year in the House, Ford received a 25 (out of 100) rating on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard.
Ford’s anti-LGBT positions run in marked contrast with Senator Gillibrand’s unyielding support for our community. In the year that she has been in the US Senate, Senator Gillibrand has been an outspoken and passionate supporter of every single piece of pro-LGBT legislation that currently exists at the federal level. She has often led the charge in the Senate for calling for the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” She became the first US Senator from New York to support marriage equality, and she actively lobbied members of the New York State Senate to support the marriage equality bill before it received a vote on Dec. 2, 2009. For our community—and any New Yorker who cares about equality for LGBT people—there is no contest here. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand deserves our full support if she is going to be challenged by someone who has a dismal voting record on our rights—someone like Harold Ford, Jr. of Tennessee.
The effort to encourage the anti-gay, anti-choice former congressman's candidacy comes from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, reports Politico's Glenn Thrush, who calls the conservative Democrat "ill suited" for a New York primary. Thrush reports:
"Bloomberg, sources tell the Times, is still smarting over Gov. David Paterson's selection of Gillibrand over his close friend Caroline Kennedy. The Times then reports that a group of "high-profile New York Democrats" are considering bankrolling Ford. What the paper doesn't explicitly say is that these three folks formed the core of the mayor's Democrats-for-Bloomberg movement — and backed his $100 million campaign for a third term, so this effort to pump up Ford looks like a Mayor Mike production, top to bottom."