You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened. And then I began talking about niggers, and they stomped the floor.
Ford's political ambitions have caused him to take a variety of socially conservative positions that he is now racing to disavow. The most morally pernicious of these was his effort to position himself as the most anti-gay of the anti-gay politicians that infect the American political system. It's probable that Ford really didn't have a problem with gay marriage. But, as Coates writes:
In the 1950s and 1960s, Alabama had in its midst men who knew segregation was a reeking abomination, but embraced it because it allowed them to fix a road in their hometown, build a clinic in the underserved backwoods, or just hook a friend up for a job. Or maybe it was just power--who can tell?
From my perspective, motive is irrelevant. (There's usually a good reason to do evil. That's the nature of evil.) It takes a particular kind of cowardice to throw people's lives aside and bow to the mutually destructive curse of discrimination. I can believe Harold Ford was never actually against gay marriage, and was more concerned with good schools and good roads. But then when he said "constitutional amendment," they stomped the floor.