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MARRIAGE DIGEST: Some homosexual activists concerned over choice of Ford to lead DLC; amend. supporter not running again

WASHINGTON (BP)–Former U.S. Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. is the apparent choice to serve as the new chair of the Democratic Leadership Council, and it’s not sitting well with some homosexual activists.

The DLC typically is viewed as a centrist organization within the party and has been chaired by such Democrats as then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, former Sen. John Breaux and current Sen. Joseph Lieberman (now an independent).

But the likely choice of Ford, a former representative from Tennessee, has some homosexual activists upset. Ford twice supported a proposed federal constitutional marriage amendment, in 2004 and 2006. He also vocally opposed a 2006 decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court ordering the state legislature either to legalize “gay marriage” or Vermont-style civil unions.

Ford lost in a close race for the Senate last year to Bob Corker.

National Stonewall Democrats, a group that advances homosexual causes within the party, issued a statement Jan. 12 expressing “deep concern” over the choice of Ford, saying he “possesses a poor record on issues that impact LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] families.

“Congressman Harold Ford has demonstrated a lack of leadership and judgment on family issues that causes our members great concern,” Joanne Wyrick, executive director of National Stonewall Democrats, said in a statement. “His willingness to lightly amend the U.S. Constitution and to exploit gay families for political gain should alarm Democrats across the country. The Democratic Leadership Council is in need of leadership that supports and affirms all American families.”

The statement claimed Ford was at “odds with the past position of the Democratic Leadership Council.”

The DLC is not an official party organization but seeks to influence the direction of the party. Ford would replace outgoing Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who is running for president.

PROTESTING WISCONSIN’S AMENDMENT — The Madison, Wis., City Council voted Jan. 16 to allow those taking a public oath of office to do so under protest of the state’s new constitutional marriage amendment. Under the new rule, officials now can take the oath of office while publicly noting they disagree with the amendment and will work to eliminate it from the constitution. The resolution passed by a vote of 14-4.

The amendment passed easily on Election Day, 59-41 percent.

“This is not to undo the constitution,” Bert Zipperer, president of the city’s Equal Opportunities Commission, said, according to The Capital Times newspaper. “It’s a voluntary statement for justice and liberty for all.”

Others, though, disagreed. Cindy Thomas, a member of the council, voted against it.

“You can’t weasel your way out of your oath,” she said, according to The Times. “When people from afar hear about our vote on this, we will become a laughingstock.”

Under the resolution, a public official would be able to take the oath while making an addition statement saying they will “work to eliminate this section from the constitution and work to prevent any discriminatory impacts from its application.”

University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor Howard Schweber told the newspaper the new rule would allow oath takers to “come perilously close to saying [that] in their duties they will ignore the law or alter the law when it conflicts with their personal principles.”

Including Wisconsin, a majority of states — 27 — have adopted such amendments.

MARRIAGE AMENDMENT SUPPORTER LEAVING — U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, a Colorado Republican and lead sponsor of the federal marriage amendment in the last Congress, said Jan. 15 he will not run for re-election in 2008. When first elected in 1996, he said he would serve no more than two terms, Congressional Quarterly reported.

During floor debate, Allard was one of the most outspoken supporters of natural, traditional marriage

“Some of my colleagues feel we shouldn’t be talking about marriage in the Senate,” Allard said on the floor during debate on the amendment in June 2006. “I say we must…. We have a duty … to discuss the state of marriage in America. If we do not take this up, we abdicate our responsibilities. We will allow the courts sole dominion on the state and future of marriage.”
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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  • Michael Foust