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Ford Praised For Backing Gay Equality – Washington Blade
Although Ford did not take a public stand on gay issues during his presidency, gay activists have credited him with using his enormous stature as a past president and elder statesman to speak out for gay civil rights.
In a widely read interview in October 2001 with lesbian columnist Deb Price of the Detroit News, Ford called on his fellow Republicans to join him in supporting equal treatment for gay people.
“I have always believed in an inclusive policy, in welcoming gays and others into the party,” Ford said. “I think the party has to have an umbrella philosophy if it expects to win elections.”
When asked by Price if gay couples should receive the same economic benefits as married couples, such as Social Security and tax deductions, Ford said, “I don’t see why they shouldn’t. I think that’s a proper goal…I think they ought to be treated equally. Period.”
Ford’s gay-supportive comments in the Price interview prompted the Republican Unity Coalition, a gay-straight alliance that advocated support for gay issues within the Republican Party, to invite Ford to join its advisory board.
Ford later expressed support for legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace.
In September 1975, shortly after Ford became president and years before he spoke out on gay issues, a gay man in San Francisco saved his life by grabbing the arm of a deranged woman as she pointed a revolver at Ford’s head. The incident occurred as Ford emerged from the Saint Francis Hotel, with more than 2000 people waiting to greet the new president.
This piece was great to read because I wasn’t aware of President Ford’s presence on the board of the Republican Unity Coalition (to which I have donated in the past), or his position on gay issues. That being said, I have always shared the same fondness for President Ford that Dan expressed earlier.
Although the media has been characterizing Ford as being somewhat of a transition figure from Rockefeller Republicans to Reagan Republicans, I believe history will show that in only two short years, Gerald Ford helped this nation ten times more than the man who defeated him in 1976.
Certainly Ford’s vocal support for gay equality completes my admiration of our 38th President. Rest in peace, Mr. President.