BY STEVE ROTHAUS
Democrat Charlie Crist, who as a Republican governor in 2008 supported a statewide constitutional ban against gay marriage and civil unions, criticized Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi on Thursday for defending the state’s gay marriage ban in court.
“It’s unfortunate that Rick Scott and Pam Bondi feel this way about gay marriage and are not embracing or tolerant of it. It’s embarrassing, frankly,” Crist said. “The rest of America is moving forward and they’re still on the wrong side of history on this issue. But we can fix it and they call it an election. Only 89 days away, so help is on the way.
“They should cease and desist on fighting gay marriage — same-sex marriage — and equality. The time has passed to do that.”
Crist, the former Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat who is now running for governor, made his remarks Thursday as he accepted the LGBT-rights group SAVE’s endorsement at City Hall the Restaurant in Miami.
When asked where he stands on gay marriage, Republican Gov. Rick Scott has said he “supports traditional marriage, consistent with the amendment approved by Florida voters in 2008, but does not believe that anyone should be discriminated against for any reason.”
In recent weeks, South Florida judges have called the state gay marriage ban unconstitutional. Right-to-marry and marriage-recognition rulings in Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward counties have been stayed pending appeals by Bondi. A Palm Beach ruling has not been challenged, but the judge ordered it only applie in the case of a Pennsylvania man whose husband died in Boynton Beach.
“Same-sex marriage is something we should embrace and not stand in the way of anyone. I have that view. I feel that way.”
Crist‘s record on gay marriage was rated a “Full Flop” by PolitiFact Florida.
“Looking back through his political career in Florida, we found that Crist’s opinion has traversed the spectrum,” PolitiFact Florida reported in May 2013. It noted that as a Republican gubernatorial candidate in 2006, Crist signed a petition to help get a gay marriage ban on the Florida ballot and said he supported “traditional marriage.”
While governor in 2008, Crist voted for the ban. As a Senate candidate in 2010, he stopped short of endorsing gay marriage, saying he supported civil unions that afforded the legal benefits of marriage. Last year, he announced his support of gay marriage.
On July 29, Crist announced that if elected governor he would immediately sign an order banning discrimination against gay and transgender employees at agencies under his control and their contractors.
“Gov. Crist is one of the many Americans, like Presidents Obama and Clinton, who have made the personal journey from opposition to support for LGBT equality,” SAVE board member Joseph Falk said in a statement.
SAVE Executive Director Tony Lima said Crist "has stated in no uncertain terms that he supports LGBT people."
"He has put actions behind his words by announcing his support for marriage equality in Florida and filing a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the gay and lesbian couples in the Miami-Dade marriage equality lawsuit," Lima said. "He has promised executive action on equality on day one of his term. I'm confident he will work to ensure that the LGBT community has equal rights."