By Julie Bolcer
Originally published on Advocate.com June 13 2011 9:55 AM ET
Former Tennessee congressman Harold Ford Jr. reiterated his change of heart to support marriage equality in a new video for the New Yorkers for Marriage Equality series from the Human Rights Campaign.
Ford, who voted twice for the Federal Marriage Amendment in Congress in 2004 and 2006, says in the new spot, “I’m proud to say my views on this issue of marriage equality have changed. I've listened and I've learned.”
Last year, as Ford explored a primary challenge to U.S. senator Kirsten Gillibrand in New York, where he lives now, the Democrat faced a severe backlash from LGBT activists angry about his two votes for the amendment to ban same-sex marriage in the Constitution. Although he said then that his views had changed, the situation was aggravated by accounts from Memphis constituents who claimed the former congressman had lied and assured them he opposed the amendment before the first vote in 2004.
Ford ultimately decided not to challenge Gillibrand, who overwhelmingly won the special election to fill out the remainder of the six-year term relinquished by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The reaffirmation from Ford arrives as advocates expect soon to announce that at least two of the three undecided Democrats who voted against the marriage equality bill in the state Senate 2009 now support it. The Democratic assurance would be the precursor to moving at least five undecided Republicans to push the bill beyond the 32 votes needed for passage. The state Assembly has already passed the bill three times and stands poised to pass it again this year.
"We are grateful to Harold Ford Jr. for his leadership,” said Brian Ellner, senior strategist for HRC in New York. “He represents the many New Yorkers who have 'listened’ and ‘learned' and realize it's time to pass marriage equality."
The New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign features seeks to raise awareness of the issue through video testimonials from high profile and everyday New Yorkers. So far, HRC has released videos from Michael Strahan, Ben & Jerry, Broadway Actors, Vanessa Williams, Anna Wintour, Larry King, Sean Avery, Julianna Margulies, Bill T. Jones, Sam Waterston, Christopher Meloni, Mario Batali, David Chang, Tom Colicchio, Lucy Liu, Bill Bratton and Rikki Klieman, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Former New York City mayors Ed Koch and David Dinkins, Russell Simmons, Mark and Sunrise Ruffalo, John Slattery, Joan Rivers, Barbara Bush, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Whoopi Goldberg, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon, Fran Drescher, Moby, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Julianne Moore, and Kenneth Cole.