It wasn’t long ago that Gov. Charlie Crist was speaking his (former) Republican Party’s rote of “family values” rhetoric: no to gay marriage or civil unions, yes to the military’s half-pregnant anti-gay policy (force soldiers to pretend they’re not what they are until outed, then boot them out) , and most damagingly in Florida, continued support for the nation’s most draconian ban on gay adoptions. But Crist, in a three-way race for U.S. Senate with Democrat Kendrick Meek and Republican Marco Rubio, has been rediscovering his inner expedience.
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This week, Crist released a page-long outline repealing all standard-issue positions on gay and lesbian matters. He doesn’t go as far as endorsing gay marriage, though nor do any of the standard-issue Democrats in the country (Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton among them). He endorses civil unions. Last May he began moving away from the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. Now he says that those “willing to risk their lives to defend our country should not be compelled to lie to do so.”
And on gay adoptions: “We need to take politics out of adoption decisions. 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.” Crist is referring to a law that forbids gay adoption regardless of a judge’s better judgment, even though Florida allows gay couples to foster children the entire time they’re minors. “There is only one question that matters,” Crist’s statement goes on. “What is in the best interest of that child?”
As the Miami Herald, “It’s unclear what, if anything, Crist can or will do as governor to follow through on his support for adoption by gay couples. The state is currently appealing a ruling by a Miami-Dade circuit judge who approved the adoption of two half-brothers by a North Miami foster parent.”
Crist’s flip-flops, however admirable the new positions being embraced, are easy targets for his opponents. Meek called the switch “too little, too late” (an odd implication that suggests there is never room to do or say the right thing). Rubio reminded voters that Crist was behind Florida’s 2008 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in the state, and had clearly opposed changing Florida’s adoption law.
To Eric Johnson, a Crist adviser and a Democrat, “It’s never too late to support gay rights. If Kendrick Meek is truly a supporter of gay rights, he should be applauding Crist for these positions.”
Here’s the full text of Crist’s position paper:
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.
Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)
I support strong anti-discrimination laws including ENDA. Employment and advancement should be based on skill and merit, not hindered by prejudice of any kind.
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.
Every Child Deserves a Family Act
We need to take politics out of adoption decisions. 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?”
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.
Appropriations for HIV/AIDS Programs
I believe we must make combating HIV/AIDS a priority by harnessing all possible resources to prevent new infections, provide meaningful access to quality care and treatment, boost research to find a cure and address the global crisis.