Yesterday, after initially suggesting that he supported a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage, Florida Governor Charlie Crist issued a clarification statement saying that while he does not support same sex marriage, he opposes a constitutional amendment prohibiting it. He favors civil unions. “I am fully supportive of civil unions and will continue to be as a United States Senator, but believe marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman,” he said. As he put it in June, “If you want to have couples or partners who want to reside together [in civil unions], I don’t have a problem with that…I’ve always supported civil unions, but I think marriage in the traditional sense is what I believe in,” Crist told Time magazine.
But that’s not what he believed in 2008. Back then, Crist had abandoned his “live and let live” attitude and announced his support for The Florida Marriage Amendment, or Proposition 2. That language prohibited not just same-sex marriages; it also outlawed civil unions:
This amendment protects marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and provides that no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”
During the campaign for Proposition 2, supporters of the amendment maintained that civil unions should be prohibited alongside marriage, since they grant gay couples all of the rights of marriage. “We believed, during the campaign, that civil unions would very likely be prohibited by the amendment,” Equality Florida’s Brian Winsield told me. He remains hopeful, however, that the measure, which passed with 62% of the vote, would allow for domestic partnerships — arrangements that grant couples only some of the rights of marriage. Crist presumably has two positions on that as well.