In a sign that he’s considering considering challenging Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) in the Democratic primary, former Rep. Harold Ford Jr., (D-Tennessee) has gone on the record in support of same-sex marriage.
Though he twice voted in favor of a constitutional ban on ban gay marriage, Ford now states: “My support for fairness and equality existed long before I moved to New York.”
Appearing on NBC’s Today show this morning, Matt Lauer asked Ford, who has long backed civil unions, whether his new found support of same-sex marriage is a change in position:
“Maybe in the language. But I’m a believer that benefits should flow to same-sex partners and if indeed the fiction of the language, the title, should be changed, much like Chuck Schumer who changed his mind on it and Bill Clinton’s evolved, I’m of the opinion now that nothing is wrong with that.”
Meanwhile, a resolute President Obama is backing Gillibrand over Ford, the White House said Monday.
“Look, I think, the White House is quite happy with the leadership and the representation of Sen. Gillibrand in New York. And as many are in the (Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee), we’re supporting her re-election,” spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
Ford moved to New York three years ago, and currently works for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Tennessee’s 9th congressional district from 1997 to 2007.
In 2004, Ford was one of only 36 House Democrats to vote for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage; in 2006, he did so again, one of only 34 Democrats to do so.
Ford did not seek re-election to his House seat in 2006 when he unsuccessfully sought the Senate seat vacated by retiring Bill Frist.
Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate last year by Democratic Gov. David Paterson to fill the seat Hillary Clinton vacated when she became Secretary of State.