Charlie Crist Asks FL Gov. to Stop Defending Gay Marriage Ban
Florida's Former Republican Governor Charlie Crist has done a complete 180, now supports gay marriage, and has written an open letter to current Florida Governor Rick Scott asking him to stop defending the state's gay marriage ban in court.
"Florida deserves a governor who will stand up for all of the people of this state," writes Crist in his letter, posted in the Tampa Bay Times.
Towleroad reports that although Christ supported the ban on same-sex marriage when Florida voters passed it in 2008, he is now running as a pro-equality Democrat in this year's gubernatorial race. He said he wants to be on the right side of history, and points to his overturning of the state's ban on gay and lesbian adoption as his first steps toward that end.
"Four years ago, a district court of appeals ruled Florida's ban on gay and lesbian adoption unconstitutional," wrote Crist. "When the ruling came down, I believed it was my job as Governor to exercise the authority vested in me by the people and our Constitution. The day the judge ruled, I declared Florida's adoption ban over. Gay and lesbian parents began adopting the children they loved immediately. It is one of my proudest moments as an elected official."
Crist noted that Federal District Judge Robert Hinckle had given them the same opportunity last Thursday when he struck down Florida's ban on same sex marriage, and suggested that they take it.
"By declaring the marriage ban finished you could discourage any future appeals and end the nightmare that loving same sex couples all across our state endure every single day, ending court battles that could drag on for months or years," wrote Crist, referencing its impact on people like widow Arlene Goldberg, who last March lost her wife of 47 years, Carol Goldwasser, and lost her home because she was denied the social security benefits they had earned.
Crist urged Scott and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to "make sure new and better things happen in Florida."
But AP reports that Bondi, a Republican, said she was "just getting started."
She has appealed previous rulings striking down the ban issued earlier this year in Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties. Hinkle's ruling allows time for appeals in the federal case. Bondi wants the Florida cases to remain on hold pending a definitive national ruling on gay marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"The U.S. Supreme Court, they need to decide this case, they are going to decide this case, hopefully sooner than later so we will have finality," Bondi said earlier this week. "There are good people on both sides of this issue and we need to have finality for everyone involved."
Towleroad reports that Hinkle issued a stay delaying the effect of his order, meaning no marriage licenses will be immediately issued for gay couples, but has personally compared the ban on gay marriage to long-abandoned prohibitions on interracial marriage and predicted both would be viewed by history the same way.
"When observers look back 50 years from now, the arguments supporting Florida's ban on same-sex marriage, though just as sincerely held, will again seem an obvious pretext for discrimination," Hinkle wrote in a 33-page ruling. "To paraphrase a civil rights leader from the age when interracial marriage was struck down, the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice."