Former Florida Republican Governor Endorses Marriage Equality

Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who is widely believed to be in the running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination this time around, has come out in favor of marriage equality. Crist’s announcement comes after a wave of harsh criticism from LGBT Floridians over his previous stances on gay issues, including a opposition to equality in adoption.

Crist announced his change of heart on his Facebook page, linking his new position to the wave of states granting equal rights to gay couples:

Some great news: On Tuesday, Delaware became the 11th state to allow marriage equality. And just a few days ago, Rhode Island adopted a similar measure, which followed victories last fall in Maine, Maryland and Washington. I most certainly support marriage equality in Florida and look forward to the day it happens here.

Crist, who became an independent in 2010 and joined the Democratic Party in December, is giving “serious thought” to another run for the Governor’s mansion. Though polls show him with a big lead over incumbent Republican Rick Scott, Florida Democrats are somewhat divided over the prospect of a Crist candidacy.

Gay Floridians have raised concerns about Crist’s record. Before Florida overturned its ban on adoption by gay couples in 2010, Crist flip-flopped on repeal of the discriminatory law. He also signed a petition in support of a state constitutional ban on marriage equality. Since members of the Florida gay community had specifically cited his lack of outright support for marriage equality as reason to be skeptical as to whether he had abandoned these old views, Crist’s Wednesday announcement may blunt some of the criticism directed at Crist.

A March poll found that 75 percent of Floridians supported marriage equality.