Gay rights groups (& Kendrick Meek supporters) throughout Florida remain skeptical about Charlie Crist's conversion

Michael Albetta, President of the Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus, expressed similar sentiments:

“With a lifelong track record as a conservative Republican, Florida’s LGBT-taxpayers are not fooled with Crist’s newfound positions in the fight for equality. He is just another craven politician out to siphon votes from disenfranchised Floridians who are genuine supporters of equality, like Kendrick Meek. The real question voters should be asking: Does Governor Crist support the same positions on LGBT issues as Senate Candidate Crist? As a sitting Governor, Crist only acts when polls tell him the time is right. He is without leadership in representing the needs of LGBT Floridians. National Stonewall Democrats encourage all Floridians to see through this latest façade of Governor Crist and see him as the opportunistic lifetime politician that he is.”

With over three months remaining in his tenure as governor, one can see how Equality Florida would react positively to a state leader now having such an "evolved" position on gay rights.  But it even though Crist officials have criticized Kendrick Meek for his remarks after the paper was released (calling them "too little, too late"), one doesn't have to have just been transported to the Sunshine State for the first time to realize that when it comes to shifting or "evolving," Governor Crist has done a lot of that of late, making one (again) question who he really is.

Isn't it fair to ask if he wasn't in need of Democratic votes would be be doing this? Or conversely, if these sentiments have always been in his soul, was he living a lie in not speaking about them, ever, during the bulk of his time as Governor?

It's hard to figure out, obviously, but it isn't hard to be cynical.  But did these feelings just come up in the past few months, or over the past few years?  Too bad for the LGBT community in this state that they had a champion all along, but never felt confident enough to espouse such views until he needed to appeal to them to continue his political career.

On Tuesday Governor Charlie Crist said that he's had an “appropriate evolution” regarding gay rights after he released a position paper this week outlining his new progressive views on several issues that are important to the gay rights community.

Although his comment that he was "reviewing" Florida's ban on gay adoption gained headlines, nothing will be decided about that law until the 3rd District Court of Appeals (finally) weighs in on the state's appeal of a 2008 ruling by a Miami judge.  The plaintiff in that case, Martin Gill, said that he doesn't want the Governor to intervene, but instead wants the courts to ultimately decide, to make any change in the current law binding, not just in Miami, but throughout Florida (if it's found to be ultimately unconstitutional).

When asked by reporters what's changed his attitude (and not just the fact that he is no longer a Republican), Crist said not much had.

“Not a whole lot has changed to be candid. I also said (back in 2006) that I’m a live-and-let-live kind of guy. And I am. As I said this morning, I think that the older you get, the less judgmental you become,” Crist said. “Maybe I was more rigid earlier. But I don’t feel that way. And I know who’s supposed to be judging people and it’s not me."

The state's leading gay rights group, Equality Florida, has come out in praise of Crist's new stance, calling it "the most comprehensive, pro-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) equality stand of a sitting governor in Florida's history."

But others are shall we say, a bit more skeptical. Then again, they have a vested rooting interest in Kendrick Meek's candidacy.  This morning in an e-mail sent out by Sally Phillips with the Hillsborough County GLBTA Democratic Steering Caucus, she wrote to members:

What has Charlie actually done for the GLBT community?"  The answer is, "WORSE THAN NOTHING." While he wants us to believe he is now for our families, he has harmed our families throughout his public life.  In only his one term as the sitting governor of Florida, Charlie

  • Is pursuing an appeal on the court decision concerning adoptions by gay parents.
  • Supported Amendment 2
  • Flip-flopped on DADT, stating at one point, "I think the current policy has worked pretty well ..."

Our message to Charlie is this, "Actions speak louder than words.  So if you really want us to listen, you've got a lot of ground to make up — a lot of positive actions to do — to show us you are trustworthy.  Actions like we've seen from Kendrick Meek throughout his career."

Which is followed up by a series of votes in Congress that the GLBTA supports.


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