The following statement was issued Friday by U.S. Rep.Harold Ford, a day after Memphis gay activist Jim Maynard announced his write-in-candidacy to oppose Ford in next month's congressional election:
Statement by Congressman Harold Ford
on H.J. Res. 56, the Federal Marriage Amendment
"My position on same sex marriage has been clear from the beginning. I am opposed to it. The Defense of Marriage Act - which I support - is likely not to withstand a court challenge. To ensure that the institution of marriage remains one reserved for the union of a man and a woman, yesterday I supported the effort to enact a constitutional amendment.
"However, my support for rights for gay Americans remains strong and intact. I am able to distinguish between marriage and work place, labor, benefits and civil rights protections for gay and lesbian Americans. I am unapologetic in my support of anti-discrimination efforts against gays and lesbians and will remain so. But when it comes to marriage, I differ with friends and allies in the gay and lesbian community."
Ford's write-in opponent was critical of the congressman's stand and, in a statement, suggested that Ford had been less than forthright about it and accused Ford of "an appeal to bigotry." Said Maynard in a statement:
"In voting for H.J. Res. 56, Rep. Harold Ford Jr. reversed his prior position and statements in opposition to amending the Constitution of the United States to prohibit states from supporting equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.
"In an email to oppponents of the amendment, Rep. Ford stateds his belief that the issue of marriage should be left up to the states; in an email to supporters of the amendment, Rep. Ford stated "While I question whether an amendment to our sacred Constitution is needed at this time, I will carry out the wishes of citizens who favor a constitutional amendment."
"It is disappointing that Rep. Ford has caved in to religious intolerance and sacrificed the principles of the Democratic Party to appeal to bigotry. While we can agree to disagree on our different religious and personal beliefs about marriage, we cannot ignore the constitutional separation of church and state. Following the constitutional separation of church and state, we must separate the religious institutution of marriage from the civil institution of marriage. Churches should be free to follow their religious teachings about marriage, and gays and lesbians should be free to share in the legal benefits of civil marriage," says Jim Maynard.
"Because Rep. Ford has failed to defend the constitutional separation of church and state, I offer my name as a write-in candidate to allow voters a choice on Nov. 2 between a candidate who sacrifices his beliefs and principles and one who defends his beliefs and principles.'"