BY Julie Bolcer

February 23 2010 9:05 PM ET

While Maynard does not still have the e-mail, Hunter Johnston, a former
president of the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, affirms his
recollection. Johnston says he called Ford’s office in D.C. a few days
before the late September vote.

“Congressman Ford would never
put discriminatory language into the constitution,” said a female
staffer, according to Johnston.

Neither Maynard nor Johnston
ever obtained an explanation, and both say they disengaged from Ford
as he adopted increasingly conservative positions ahead of an
ultimately unsuccessful 2006 Senate run, including a second vote for the marriage amendment in 2006. According to Human Rights Campaign scorecards from his
decade in Congress, Ford received a 75, 90, and 100 in his first three terms, and his scores fell to 44
and 25 in his final two terms. He moved to New York in late 2006 and
took a job with Merrill Lynch.

“I can understand changing your
mind a week before a vote, but not to announce it to people who think
you’re voting for them, I can’t understand that,” says Johnston. “I
felt betrayed by him. A lot of other people did too.”

In
response to requests for comment from The Advocate, Ford spokesman
David Goldin e-mailed the following statement. “Harold was pleased to accept the
invitation to speak tomorrow evening and looks forward to discussing
whatever topics are raised.”

If signals from LGBT activist
network the Power provide any indication, Ford is likely to face
energetic protests and multiple questions about his newly professed
support for marriage equality. In an interview with the Today showlast
month, he compared his position to those of President Bill Clinton and New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer, who have evolved on the issue.

The
comparison rankles activist Jeffrey Campagna in light of Ford’s two votes for
the marriage amendment. He contrasts those with the record of Senator Gillibrand, who has
emerged as a high-profile advocate for LGBT rights since being appointed to office
last year.

“We are very clear about the difference between
someone evolving in their positions and someone pandering to us,” says
Campagna. “What he’s done in the past makes him unfit and unqualified
to represent LGBT people.”

Members of the Power acknowledge a
state of heightened vigilance since eight New York state senate
Democrats voted against the marriage equality bill in December. As of
Tuesday evening, the invitation to “Crash Harold Ford, Jr.'s Address to
Stonewall Democrats NYC” had 226 confirmed guests on Facebook.

“There
is a really big resonance on people who screwed us over,” says Jon
Winkleman, who crashed a meeting between Ford and Brooklyn Democratic
party leaders last month. He cites residual anger toward lawmakers
like Joseph Addabbo of Queens, who enjoyed significant gay financial
backing and volunteer support in his 2008 state senate campaign but cast the first
vote against marriage equality in the roll call.



















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