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Politics

Rivals Call Out Charlie Crist's Shifts on LGBT Issues

June 12, 2014 - 6:00pm
Two of Floridas largest LGBT groups endorsed former Gov. Charlie Crist for governor and some of his rivals arent happy with it.

Crist won the endorsements of Equality Florida Action PAC and the Human Rights Campaign on Thursday as he continues his run for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott.

The early endorsement reflects the urgency of electing a governor who will speed progress when it comes to equality, not stand in the way of fairness, said Stratton Pollitzer, chairman of Equality Action Florida PAC. Florida is at a critical moment in our struggle to end discrimination, and the next governor will have a tremendous impact on the everyday lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in our state. Charlie Crist has taken a clear stand for equality and fairness and is delivering a message that will inspire the growing pro-equality majority in our state to stand on the right side of history.

The LGBT activists noted Crist spent most of his political life as a Republican, with Equality Action Florida PAC insisting Crist broke from his party over its increasing hostility toward gay people, women, the poor and the partys voter suppression tactics and pointing toward his apologies over his past stances. Crist left the GOP in 2010 after being caught by underdog Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate primary and continued his campaign with no party affiliation. After backing President Barack Obamas re-election efforts, Crist joined the Democrats in December 2012.

In 2008, when he was angling to be vice president on the Republican ticket, Crist was a vocal supporter of a proposed state Constitution amendment recognizing only traditional marriage in Florida. With Crists support, the amendment passed with 63 percent of voters backing it.

Floridians deserve a governor who fights for them including for their right to marry the person they love and to be safe from discrimination in the workplace, said Crist. I am proud to stand with Equality Florida Action PAC, the Human Rights Campaign and Floridas LGBT community to fight to make Florida fair for all hard-working families.

Crist also went on the attack against the Republicans on the issue.

Right now, Florida is on the wrong side of history, Crist insisted on Thursday night before proceeding to attack Republicans for holding a position he embraced only a few years before. Rick Scott believes marriage equality is a nonissue. Attorney General Pam Bondi has argued that same-sex marriage could be harmful to the public -- and neither will support policies forbidding employment discrimination. It's embarrassing to our state. All Floridians have the right to marry the person they love, and to be safe from discrimination in the workplace. That's simply what I believe.

Former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich, trying to catch Crist in the primary, noted that the former Republican governor switched his position on the issue just as he had switched parties and political ambitions.

The belief that all Floridians deserve to be treated with fairness and equality has been one of the driving principles of my career in public service, Rich said. I opposed the ban on adoptions by same-sex couples, I opposed the discriminatory ban on same-sex marriage, and Im the only candidate in the race for governor who can say that.

Libertarian Adrian Wyllies team also called out Equality Action Florida PAC for backing Crist, wondering if they forgot the 2008 ban on same-sex marriage was under Crist and insisting their candidate was better on the issue.

Adrian Wyllie has consistently supported marriage rights, his campaign insisted.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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