CORRECTION: Fixes typos in source name.
(CNSNews.com) - Former President Gerald R. Ford thinks the federal government should treat homosexual couples the same as married heterosexual couples, even supplying them with equal Social Security and tax benefits.
In an exclusive interview with the Detroit News, the former president said, "I think they ought to be treated equally." Asked specifically whether homosexual couples should get the same Social Security, tax and other federal benefits as married couples, he replied, "I don't see why they shouldn't. I think it's a proper goal."
The former president also told the newspaper he supports federal legislation to outlaw anti-homosexual job discrimination, "That is a step in the right direction. I have a longstanding record in favor of legislation to do away with discrimination."
Reverend Lou Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, took issue with Ford's comments.
"I don't think President Ford has really thought this one through. Homosexuals have so many multi-sexual partners. They are not monogamous. That does not contribute to the betterment of society. Society needs, for its achieving principles, a family where there is a father and a mother. Children can only best be raised in a setting where there is a monogamous relationship between a father and a mother," said Sheldon.
Sheldon pointed out that 38 states have approved legislation, recognizing marriage as an act between a man and a woman.
Ford was president from 1974-77, rising to the office after Richard Nixon's resignation. In the interview with the Detroit News, he did not say if any of his White House appointees were homosexual, but said he is pleased that President Bush has appointed homosexuals to serve in his administration.
"I applaud that President Bush has appointed three people who are gay. That is a big step in the right direction. The atmosphere was totally different 25 years ago, and the issue never arose." The former president added that having homosexual assistants wouldn't have mattered to him "as long as they were competent."
White House spokesman Jimmy Orr refused to confirm Ford's statement that three homosexuals had been appointed to jobs in the administration, but said, "the president selects experienced individuals with high character who agree with him on issues and will assist the Administration [with] implement[ing] the president's agenda."
In the newspaper interview, Ford expressed hope that the Republican Party will continue to expand its outreach to homosexual voters.
"I have always believed in an inclusive policy, in welcoming gays and others into the party. I think the party has to have an umbrella philosophy if it expects to win elections," the former president said.
According to Sheldon, Republicans need "to find people who agree with our president. And President George Bush does not agree in granting these things (equality to homosexuals). We've talked to him and he has given us that assurance."
But the Log Cabin Republicans applauded Ford's comments and believe inclusion is the GOP's formula to winning future elections.
"I think he is yet another person within the party who is speaking up about equality and that is always a positive thing. I think what President Ford sees is the long term inevitability that gay and lesbian people are going to be treated equally in this society," said Kevin Ivers, spokesman for the Log Cabin Republicans.
Ivers also thinks "President Ford recognizes that gay people, like blacks and latinos and a whole bunch of different groups in this country, also share the core values of the Republican Party which make up a positive, conservative agenda for the country and for the world."
Phyllis Schlafly, president of the conservative Eagle Forum, was blunt in her assessment of Ford's comments.
"This is just one more reason why it was a mistake to nominate Gerald Ford for president at the Republican National Convention of 1976."
Ford won the nomination after a bitter primary battle with former California Governor Ronald Reagan. Ford then went on to lose the 1976 general election to Democrat Jimmy Carter.