congressman Harold Ford Jr., who voted for the Federal
Marriage Amendment when it was brought up for a vote in 2004
and 2006, became the new chairman of the Democratic
Leadership Council on Thursday, the Associated Press
reports. Ford, who lost his campaign last year to
become the first black U.S. senator from the South
since Reconstruction, also took pains to say he disagreed
with the New Jersey supreme court's validation of
marriage rights for gays.
Ford's aversion to marriage equality immediately
came under fire by gay rights groups, who noted that
the DLC, a centrist group, has opposed antigay ballot
measures on domestic-partnership benefits, civil unions,
and other rights for gays in the past. The National
Stonewall Democrats, for one, called on the DLC to
affirm its opposition to such initiatives now
that Ford is in charge.
"We are asking the Democratic Leadership Council
to affirm its opposition to antifamily constitutional
amendments that have been championed by Harold Ford,"
Jo Wyrick, executive director of the Stonewall
Democrats, said in a statement. "Antigay populism has
failed just about every Democratic candidate who has tried
to exploit it, and it has failed Harold Ford. The DLC
should not allow such diversions that it has labeled
'cynical and desperate' in the past to corrupt the
mission of its organization."
She added that "the Democratic Leadership
Council and Congressman Ford need to strongly affirm
the platform of the Democratic Party and the past
policy of the DLC in opposing these measures."
Ford, 36, who represented Memphis for 10 years
in the House of Representatives, lost a close race to
Republican Bob Corker to replace Sen. Bill Frist, who
retired, in November. He has indicated that
he intends to run for office again in Tennessee. (The Advocate)