Charlotte, N.C. – MeckPAC released our endorsements for Charlotte mayor and city council on Wednesday, August 23, including a warning for mayoral candidate, State Senator Joel Ford. Today, in response to Senator Ford’s LGBTQ-targeted social media advertising this week, we are reiterating our warning regarding Ford and explaining why we urge community members not to offer their support or votes for this candidate.
Despite Senator Ford’s social media advertising — including a photo of him posing in front of a rainbow flag and his lip-service to “equality for all under the law” — LGBTQ Charlotteans best know Senator Ford for his repeated betrayals of our community.
MeckPAC is proud of our endorsement process, which requires each candidate to submit a completed questionnaire. Upon completion of the questionnaire, we call each candidate in, as needed, for a follow-up interview. When all questionnaires and interviews are complete, our board deliberates and votes on each endorsement. From time-to-time, we also issue warnings on candidates and campaigns we believe will be detrimental to efforts to advance LGBTQ equality and inclusion measures.
Only one major Democratic candidate for mayor refused to participate in this process — Senator Ford did not complete our questionnaire, despite numerous and personal invitations for him to do so. Instead, he submitted a statement, most of which can be found on his website. This alone is enough to disqualify him from an endorsement; without a completed questionnaire, it is impossible for our community to know exactly where Senator Ford stands on a variety of critical, intersectional issues affecting our community. In his statement, Senator Ford claimed he has a path towards LGBTQ equality, but that, “We may differ on how we get there. We may differ on the steps it takes to achieve equality.” In reality, Senator Ford’s “steps [to] achieve equality” have led and would lead to the exact opposite; at every turn, as his record clearly demonstrates, Senator Ford’s first “step” or inclination is an anti-equality position.
It is in recognition of Senator Ford’s record that MeckPAC issues this warning. Below are just some of the reasons MeckPAC considered in our decision:
• In 2010, when now-Senator Ford was chair of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party, he expressed support for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and opposition to President Barack Obama’s push to have the discriminatory law repealed, calling the President’s efforts politically motivated. Only after being questioned by local LGBTQ news-media did Senator Ford reverse his position.
(Source: QNotes, Feb. 10, 2010)
• In 2015, Senator Ford voted in favor of Senate Bill 2, a bill that would allow magistrates to recuse themselves from performing gay marriages for religious reasons. Senator Ford voted to maintain then-Governor Pat McCrory’s veto, but only after a tremendous amount of pressure from LGBTQ advocates and LGBTQ constituents in his district. Even then, Senator Ford said the bill only had the “appearance of discrimination,” and he downplayed the bill’s discriminatory intent. Governor McCrory’s veto was overridden and Senate Bill 2 became law of the land.
(Source: News & Observer, June 1, 2015)
• In 2017, Senator Ford led efforts to compromise on House Bill 2, rather than demanding a clean repeal.
(Source: Charlotte Observer, March 21, 2017)
• In 2017, Senator Ford voiced opposition to fully comprehensive, LGBTQ-inclusive public accommodations protections.
(Source: Charlotte Observer, March 15, 2017)
• As a voter, Senator Ford cast his personal ballot in favor of Amendment One, the 2012 state constitutional amendment which prohibited marriage equality for same-sex couples.
(Source: Charlotte Observer, Aug. 25, 2017)
Outside of his opinions on law and legislation, Senator Ford has repeatedly shown disrespect and a lack of regard for the concerns of his LGBTQ constituents. He has routinely attacked LGBTQ community members, especially on social media, when those leaders bring up his less-than-friendly record.
It is with this knowledge of his record and his attitude towards LGBTQ community members that MeckPAC refutes Senator Ford’s claims to be for “equality for all under the law” and issues the strongest possible warning in Charlotte’s mayoral race.
Anybody can stand in front of a rainbow flag and claim to be an ally, but only true allies understand the meaning of that rainbow, and put both their words and actions behind it; Senator Ford has proven he will do neither.