Harold Ford can be whoever you want him to be

Positioning himself for a Democratic primary in New York, Ford changes his position on same-sex marriage

By Alex Koppelman
Published January 11, 2010 4:45PM (EST)

Former Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Tenn, is a big supporter of same-sex marriage. Which is odd, because when he represented Tennessee in the House, and when he ran for Senate there, he was a vocal opponent of it, even cutting a 2006 ad in which he specifically denied a charge that he favored it.

But now Ford is pretty actively considering challenging Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., in a Democratic primary this year. Considering New York's Democratic politics, Ford has to get to the left on at least some issues, and fast, and he's apparently chosen this one. Might be hard to get voters in a state where this has been an issue lately to take him seriously, though, considering that while he was in the House, Ford voted in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have amended the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage nationwide.

Ford does deserve at least partial credit for one thing, though -- in an interview on the "Today Show," he called the difference between civil unions and same-sex marriage a "fiction." If you watch Democratic politicians try to justify being for civil unions and against same-sex marriage, you'll see that's true; the former is a position they've adopted largely because it doesn't carry much political risk. So good on Ford for admitting that, now; just too bad that the admission seems to have arisen, like his own prior position in favor of civil unions and against marriage, out of political considerations.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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