Raw Story is reporting that Gov. Charlie Crist (I-FL) will issue a new position paper later this week embracing a host of new LGBT initiatives, while still opposing same-sex marriage:
I believe that the government should not make it harder for people to take care of their loved ones. I believe civil unions that provide the full range of legal protections should be available to gay couples. That includes access to a loved one in the hospital, inheritance rights, the fundamental things people need to take care of their families.
Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
I’m a strong supporter of the men and women of our military. Those willing to risk their lives to defend our country should not be compelled to lie to do so. I support the current efforts by Congress and military leadership to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and hold every member of the military to the same standard of professionalism that has made our military the greatest force for good in the world
Federal Safe Schools Improvement Act
As Commissioner of Education I was the first statewide official to support anti-bullying protections that specifically enumerated the most frequent manifestations of bullying in our schools. Everyone who has children or who has worked with students knows that anti-gay taunts are used relentlessly on our campuses. We need to address the epidemic of bullying and create safe learning environments for every single student.
The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act
I’ve been a consistent supporter of providing legal protections for gay couples. Like most Americans I believe the government should make it easier, not harder, for people to take care of their loved ones.
Uniting American Families Act
Family reunification has been the foundation of U.S. immigration law but U.S. citizens who are gay cannot sponsor their partners for family-based immigration. As a consequence, many same-sex, bi-national couples are kept apart or torn apart sometimes even separating parents from their children. This bill, which I support, humanely addresses a problem that disproportionately impacts Floridians.
Equal Access to COBRA Act
I strongly support this act which mandates that employees, their partners and dependent children be allowed to continue participation in their employer-sponsored health coverage.
Crist has a long and complicated history on gay issues and has at times opposed many of the above measures. As a Republican, Crist supported the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, but as an independent, he now supports its repeal. Crist has also supported efforts to ban gay marriage in Florida, but has said that civil unions between gays are “fine.” In 2007, however, he asked the Republican party to stop spending money promoting “a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Florida” even after he signed a petition “to place an amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage on the 2008 election ballot.” “When asked if he supported civil rights on the basis of sexual orientation, Crist said ‘no.’”
On July 28, 2006, Crist told a radio show that he “haven’t taken a position yet” on the right of gays to adopt, but only days after — in an interview by the Florida Baptist Witness — “Crist answered ‘no’ to repealing the ban on gays’ adopting.” In the draft provided to Raw Story, Crist says he now opposes the adoption ban. “We need to take politics out of adoption decisions,” the governor says in the draft. “That is why I oppose Florida’s current law that requires Family Law judges to ignore what is right for a child in order to adhere to what Florida law blindly demands. There is only one question that matters: What is in the best interest of that child?”
As an independent, Crist probably feels that he has to position himself as more accepting of LGBT issues to bolster his position with moderate voters. This strategic decision — the realization that supporting LGBT issues is mainstream — is in itself a major victory for LGBT activists. As Equality Florida’s Nadine Smith points out, “It’s great to hear a sitting governor take such a strong stand on equality issues. This is the first time in Florida’s history that a sitting governor has taken these public positions on a wide range of LGBT equality issues. It marks a shift in the debate in our state.”