public stonings

Should Harold Ford Jr. Even Bothered Talking to New York’s Gays?

We knew Harold Ford Jr.’s sit down with the Stonewall Democrats in New York — perhaps his last public appearance before officially announcing, or canceling, his U.S. Senate seat run — would be “fun.” Little did we know it would be a blast.

Some two hundred people attended the event tonight. And while it’s hard to tell how many of them actually supported Ford, or were willing to keep an open mind, the shouting, booing, and sign waving definitely sent the message that he really is not wanted around here.

“You may choose to not vote for me,” Ford kept telling the crowd, but that was little to keep shouts from the audience at bay. “You lie!” and “New York doesn’t want you!” were among the favorites.

As for that whole marriage equality issue, for which Ford faces considerable controversy, he says, “I was wrong before and I think I’m right now. … The reason support for marriage equality continues to go up is because people like me change our minds.” (See below video; the audience disagreed.)

Meanwhile:

The loudest applause came when Lt. Dan Choi expressed support for incumbent Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. He told Ford he seemed to be asking our community to “fire her” to reward her for her fierce advocacy.

Ford didn’t do himself any favors by asking a questioner to clarify what “Lawrence v. Texas” was. Ladies will be glad to hear the room was equally activated when Ford tried to distance himself from his pro-life past.

Some stupid moves on Ford’s part, the largest among them, his campaign staff might find, was even attending the event, where he was clearly walking into unfriendly territory.

But for that, we actually respect the guy. Just a little. He’s willing to face the opposition (New York’s gay community) in his quest for political office, which some politicians avoid at any cost. The event wasn’t just unfriendly to Ford; it was rude.

So, allow us to take a moment to address that: Shouting over the invited guest? Demanding he “go home,” when you’re the ones who bothered showing up to an event you knew he’d appear at? If you want to protest him, fine, but at least let him speak. We’d expect the same for our own. This was uncalled for and makes New York’s gay community look intolerant and juvenile — the same things we accuse others of being.

Except there was absolutely no chance of Ford convincing the state’s gay power elite to abandon their support of sitting Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to get behind a candidate who’s repeatedly proven to say whatever it takes to secure votes.

In a word: FAIL. Not just this evening’s appearance, but Ford’s entire as-yet-unannounced campaign.

[NCRM] [Daily Kos] [Gay City News]