Gay activists are rejoicing at the sudden retreat of Harold Ford Jr. from seeking a Senate seat in New York.

The former Tennessee congressman announced he would not run for the U.S. Senate in the Democratic primary against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand – who has the endorsement of leading gay rights group the Human Rights Campaign – in an op-ed titled Why I'm Not Running For The Senate published in the New York Times Tuesday.

“I've examined this race in every possible way, and I keep returning to the same fundamental conclusion: If I run, the likely result would be a brutal and highly negative Democratic primary – a primary where the winner emerges weakened and the Republican strengthened,” he said.

“I refuse to do anything that would help Republicans win a Senate seat in New York, and give the Senate majority to the Republicans,” he added.

Ford's about face comes on the heels of a hostile meeting Thursday with gay activists in New York City.

At an event sponsored by the political group Stonewall Democrats, furious crashers led by the New York-based gay rights group The Power shouted “liar” over Ford's explanation of how he evolved from backing civil unions for gay couples to supporting marriage.

“I falsely and wrongly believed that the two were equitable. I turned out to be wrong … I believe that the position that I hold now is the right position,” he said.

The message, however, sounded hollow to gay activists, who called Tuesday's announcement a victory.

“This is a great day for LGBT people,” Jeffrey H. Campagna, founder of The Power, said in an email to On Top Magazine. “They stood up, embraced their own power, made themselves heard, and forced a well-funded politician whose potential candidacy was offensive to the community to abandon his attempt to represent us.”

Gay activists around the country, but especially in New York and New Jersey where Democratic Senators recently joined Republicans in killing legislation that would have allowed gay couples to marry, are angry at politicians that stroke the gay community for financial support but refuse to put up their political capital for gay rights.

Campagna described Ford as such a candidate. Ford twice voted in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment, a bill that sought to define marriage as a heterosexual union in the U.S. Constitution, after aligning himself as an ally of the gay community.

“We did not protest Ford's candidacy because of his position on marriage,” Campagna said. “We protested his candidacy because he lied to us and was unrepentant about it. He lied when his office said that he wouldn't support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.”

“Any politician who takes our money and our support during his or her campaign and then when in office either fails to act or, as in Ford's case, joins with the forces of hate by voting against us, must know that the LGBT community has the power and the will to deliver consequences.”

New Jersey Democrats are already feeling the consequences of failing to deliver on gay marriage in the state. Garden State Equality, the state's largest gay rights group, announced in January that it would end its blanket support of political parties.

“No political party has a record good enough on LGBT civil rights that it can rightfully claim to be entitled to our money on a party-wide basis,” Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality, said in a statement. “No longer will we let any political party take our money and volunteers with one hand, and slap us in the face with the other when we seek full equality.”

Campagna echoed a similar sentiment: “Whether you are a Democrat in the New York State Senate who took our money and support in the last election and then voted against same-sex marriage last December, or the President of the United States, who ran on a promise to support full-equality for same-sex couples but has yet to deliver, this action should put you on notice: don't take us for granted.”