Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lies Mileage

Senate hopeful Harold Ford hits a Stonewall in West Village on gay nups
BY David Saltonstall
Thursday, February 25th 2010, 4:00 AM

Harold Ford took his "listening tour" to the mostly gay Stonewall Democratic Club in Manhattan's West Village on Wednesday night - and he sure got an earful.

Ford tried to explain how he went from voting to ban gay marriage with a constitutional amendment in 2006 as a Tennessee congressman to now supporting it as he mulls a primary bid against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

It wasn't an easy message to get out in a raucous 30 minutes at the W. 13th St. club. Ford was interrupted repeatedly by chants of "No more lies, no more lies" and "Snake-oil Harry, go away."

At one point, several audience members raised signs with slogans like, "It's the lies, stupid!" At the end of the session, someone even ignited a loud but harmless confetti bomb - sending a noticeable jolt through Ford and others.

Ford stood his ground, answering a dozen or so questions and trying - with little apparent success - to argue that his support of gay marriage was now for real.

"I don't know what more I can say, other than that I realize I was wrong," he said. "You may not embrace me, you may not vote for me, but I would only hope that you would at least accept the fact that the reason the numbers and support for marriage equality goes up is because people like me change their minds."

Ford has said he expects to make a decision about running against Gillibrand - whose work to repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy has won her plaudits in the gay community - within the next week or so.

One of few hushed moments of the evening came when Lt. Dan Choi - a gay Army officer who came out last March - rose to press Ford on gay marriage, noting pointedly that he fought in Iraq to secure rights "for your family that mine is not afforded."

Ford said he, too, would fight to let gays serve openly, but Choi was not convinced.