Crist files brief in Florida lawsuit in support of marriage equality

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist, the once and possibly future governor of Florida filed an amicus brief today in support of the lawsuit seeking marriage equality in Florida, according to a statement released earlier today by Equality Florida. The lawsuit, Pareto v. Ruvin, is set for a hearing July 2 before Judge Sarah Zabel in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Miami.

“In the last six years, our society has evolved and moved past the prejudices rooted in our past,” Crist said. “Further, science has uniformly reached the conclusion that heterosexual marriages are just as valued and revered as they have ever been; and children raised by gay and lesbian parents fare just as well as kids raised in straight families.”

Crist said that “with the arc of history now, in fact, bending toward justice,” marriage equality will not be an issue “for the children and grandchildren of this state.” But, he added, “it is still the duty of those in the present to recognize that the legitimacy of government depends upon its willingness to fairly, transparently and equitably administer the law. That goal is frustrated by denying an entire class of citizens equality in the institution of marriage simply because of who they are and whom they love.”

In a statement regarding Crist’s brief, Equality Florida cited statistics indicating that 57 percent of Floridians support marriage equality. Crist filed the amicus brief in Pareto v. Ruvin, filed Jan. 21, challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. The lawsuit argues that Florida’s laws barring same-sex couples from marriage violate the United States Constitution by denying them the legal protections and equal dignity that having the freedom to marry provides.

Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith said, “As a former governor and as someone who previously supported [the gay marriage ban], Charlie Crist’s words matter a great deal. He has taken the same journey the majority of Floridians have taken in realizing that this ban serves no purpose but to disparage and discriminate against gay couples and our children.”

Crist, then a Republican, was governor of Florida from 2007-2011, but instead of running for re-election in 2o1o, he chose to run for U.S. Senate, race he lost to Tea Party darling Marco Rubio. In 2012, Crist switched to the Democratic Party and endorsed President Obama for re-election.

Crist — who was briefly married to Amanda Morrow in 1979 and who married Carole Rome in July 2008 after nine months of dating — has long been plagued by rumors that he was gay. In fact, in 2012 during his failed bid for the U.S. Senate, charges surfaced that Crist had affairs with two men while he was governor and then paid them to leave Florida to avoid the possibility of being embarrassed. Damon Chase — the attorney for former Florida GOP Chair Jim Greer who was facing charges he used state funds to pay his personal expenses — claimed that Greer would testify to Crist having paid off his two male paramours, and that Crist had tried to kiss Greer, and that Crist had appointed Republican George LeMieux to a U.S. Senate seat to keep LeMieux from revealing secrets about Crist’s homosexuality.

Crist denied all the allegations, calling them “a bunch of delusional lies.” Also in 2012, the Tampa Bay Times reported on records indicating that Crist believed Greer was trying to extort him.

 

—  Tammye Nash

Former Fla. GOP governor, LGBT adversary speaks for first time to gay press about running again — as a Democrat

CharlieChristDyer

In his first-ever interview with the LGBT press, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist explains why he switched parties, supports same-sex marriage and wants to be governor again

TOM DYER  |  Watermark Online

ORLANDO -  A union hall was an unlikely venue for Charlie Crist’s first interview with the LGBT press, but the former Republican governor, now Democratic candidate for the same office, has a busy schedule these days. After meeting with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades on Saturday, Dec. 14, he made himself available for an exclusive conversation.

To the union members, Crist described his ambitious agenda if elected: creating jobs, boosting education, protecting the environment, expanding health care and voting rights, and even resurrecting high speed rail. And he acknowledged the tough race ahead against Republican incumbent multi-millionaire Rick Scott.

“I’m running against a $100 million meat-grinder,” Crist told them. “I need more than your support, I need your commitment.”

Some Democrats see Crist as an unwanted, undeserving interloper. His announcement all but extinguished the candidacy of South Florida’s Nan Rich, an experienced former Senate Minority Leader with liberal bona fides.

But many have cheered his arrival, seeing a real chance to regain the governor’s mansion for the first time in 15 years. Despite a confounding run for U.S. Senate in 2010, first as a Republican and then as an Independent, recent polls show that Floridians still like Charlie. He currently leads Scott by anywhere from four to 14 points, and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson by 13 points in a matchup of Democrats.

It was easy to see why he chose a union hall. Crist likes people and enjoys campaigning. He connected with many in the audience — remembering not only their names but those of their spouses and mothers — with a Clinton-like charisma that is both powerful and persuasive. He left with a check and a standing ovation.

But the LGBT community poses special challenges. Crist recently endorsed same-sex marriage rights and all the other components of full equality. But when the Amendment 2 constitutional ban on same-sex marriage appeared on the 2008 ballot, Crist announced his support just weeks before voting day. It passed by less than 2 percentage points, and many gays and lesbian still blame their former governor. And as recently as 2010, while running for U.S. Senate, he told CNN he believed marriage should be between a man and a woman.

I asked him about all that and more during an hour-long interview. A skeptic, I was surprised and even a little disarmed by his candor. I can’t wait to find out if you are, too.

WATERMARK:  I’ve been looking forward to this dialogue. Many members of the LGBT community are enthusiastic about your candidacy, but just as many are skeptical and some are even hostile. I want to give you an opportunity to address their concerns head on.
CHARLIE CRIST: Thank you for the opportunity.

—  Steve Ramos

For the record, we're backing the closeted independent over the Tea-bagger in Florida

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist is the Republican governor of Florida who decided to run for U.S. Senate but, because he was considered a “moderate” — Horrors! He shook hands with Barack Obama! — in the Tea Party-crazed GOP of today, he decided instead to run as an independent.

In a poll conducted earlier this month for three Florida newspapers, likely voters put Crist at a statistically insignificant but notable lead for the seat against former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio.

Why, you might ask, should gays in Texas should care what politicians in Florida have to do with our lives. And the answer is, Crist is pretty much certainly gay.

His homosexuality was pretty well documented in “Outrage,” director Kirby Dick’s documentary about hypocrisy in the halls of politics. “Outrage” didn’t really reveal anything new under the sun, but it did agglomerate the facts in one place for a number of politicians who take anti-gay stances while remaining in the closet (more or less) themselves.

Crist’s defection from the GOP could be pretty big news, if only because, if not tethered to right wing of American politics, Crist might feel comfortable coming out officially, which is always a good thing for our community. On the other hand, as “Outrage” pointed out, Crist doesn’t exactly have a stellar record on supporting gay rights, has fiercely fought the gay label (despite documentation) and in general just seems like a turncoat. Still, given a choice between the Tea Party-backed Republican or Crist, it’s an easy call for me.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Is the (anti-gay) Tea Party gaining momentum?

rand_paul
Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul has Tea Party support

The Tea Party candidate for Texas governor, Debra Medina, peaked several weeks before the primary and  came in third. But in other places, candidates supported by the Tea Party are doing well, and many of them hold anti-gay views.

This weekend at the Utah Republican convention, three-term incumbent Sen. Bob Bennett polled third and will not appear on the state’s primary ballot.

One of the reasons cited was Bennett’s 1993 vote for Roberta Achtenberg, a lesbian, to be an undersecretary at HUD under Bill Clinton.

In Florida, a candidate supported by the Tea Party, Marco Rubio, was polling ahead of Gov. Charlie Crist in a U.S. Senate race. So Crist left the Republican Party and is running as an independent. Now, donors are asking Crist for their money back.

—  David Taffet