Popular Florida politician Charlie Crist has changed his position on same-sex marriage. He’s sorry for his previous position. He can explain. He’d like to explain.
When elected governor, Crist was a Republican. (He served 2007-2011.) In 2006 and 2008, he declared his support for Amendment 2 to the Florida Constitution, defining marriage as between one man and one woman, banning any other kind of union. Some say his last-minute declaration to this effect in 2008 swayed the close vote. Amendment 2 passed.
In 2010 Crist announced that instead of running for a second term he’d run for Senate, as an independent. He was beaten by Tea Party Republican Marco Rubio. Now he’s running for Governor again as a Democrat.
Crist just did his first interview with an LGBT publication, Watermark Online.
Interviewer Tom Dyer said to Crist, “You’ve recently articulated support for marriage equality, adoption rights, employment non-discrimination protections… I think it’s legitimate for members of the LGBT community to be skeptical. When you first ran for governor in 2006, you said that a ban on same-sex marriage was unnecessary, but then you signed a petition to place Amendment 2 on the ballot…”
Crist broke in: “ – and I’m sorry. I’m sorry I did that. It was a mistake. I was wrong. Please forgive me.”
Dyer pursued: “…After you signed the petition you said Amendment 2 wasn’t an issue that moved you, but then you ended up voting for it, saying you believed in it. Just three years ago, when you were running for the Senate as a Republican, you told CNN that you believed that ‘marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman.’ And just three years ago, when talking about gay adoption, you expressed a belief that traditional families are best…”
Crist: “Tom… I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
Dyer: “I appreciate that. But I think it’s important for you to address this. …one could come to the conclusion that your shifts in opinion were either politically expedient…”
Crist: “They were. They were. And it was wrong. That’s what I’m telling you. And I’m sorry.”
Dyer: “… or that you were just trying to make everyone happy and had no real convictions on these matters. I appreciate the apology…”
“I’m not sure you do,” pouted Crist.
Dyer: “Well, I’m trying. But… I want you… to address this in full; to explain where you’ve been and where you are right now.”
Crist’s answer was long, and included stuff about his parents raising him to be a good person: “I was a Republican…. Because my mom and dad were Republicans…. It’s the same reason I’m a Methodist…. As I got older I got interested in politics, and I ran for office as a Republican and I tried to be a good team player. But it was an awkward fit, and on social issues it was especially awkward…. It became harder and harder for me to toe the Republican party line. I tried, and I tried, and I tried… until I couldn’t any more.
“The examples you cited were examples of me trying to be a good Republican. I couldn’t do it anymore, and I’m sorry I did. I made a mistake. I’m not perfect… please don’t hold me to that standard. And I’m sincerely sorry. I understand when it’s necessary to say I was wrong.
“…telling women what to do with their bodies, telling people who to love or who to marry… it’s not for me. It’s not for government. It shouldn’t be for anybody. It’s between them and their god. I’ve always really felt that way, and I’m glad I don’t have to pretend anymore. As a Democrat I don’t have to, and that’s why I’m so happy to be home… where I belong.”
(Call that daring? He says he’s also rethinking his views on… charter schools.)
After some discussion about whether LGBT voters could rely on Crist’s change of heart/platform (“There will be doubters, and they have a right to that. But I ask that they have a little faith”), Dyer says, “CharlieCrist.com makes no mention of LGBT equality right now. Will that change?”
Dyer: “It won’t be sort of a subterranean thing that you trot out for appropriate groups?”
Crist: “Do I look like I’m holding back? We’re not underwater with this… we’re riding the wave! …And to your point about [Representative] Linda [Stewart]’s legislation, she called me a month ago to tell me what she was doing… I said, ‘Can I ask you a favor? Go for marriage. Why go half way?’ She explained that she didn’t think it was politically possible at this time, and I said, ‘You don’t know unless you try. You’ve gotta push it to make it happen. Plus,’ I said, ‘I think it could help us win the governor’s race. It might not pass right now, but if marriage equality is out there as an option we can say that Rick Scott won’t sign it and Charlie will.’
“And I will! It’s my heart. It’s what I believe.”
( I ESPECIALLY believe it IF IT HELPS ME WIN!)
A very interesting apology. (And an excellent interview.) He comes right out and says his earlier position was taken because it was expedient. Serving to promote his interest. He asks that we not hold him to the standard of perfection. He says his current position is what he really believes. Then he notes that it’s expedient.
How shall we rate this apology? Hmm. He’s speaking to LGBT citizens. He takes responsibility. He explains why he did it.
He doesn’t acknowledge any harm. Admittedly, he’s a politician, but it’s all about Charlie. His parents, his feelings, his struggles with “trying to be a good Republican.” (Fifty four years? Long struggle.)
I like Crist’s new position on same-sex marriage better than his old one. I appreciate his admission that he took the old position because it was expedient. Which he says was wrong.
But I want to hear a lot more about the expediency. Well, many politicians do expedient things all the time – why pick on Crist because he at least admits it? Because I’d like him to stop. A change of party won’t make him safe from political pressures. It’s not like Democrats never make expedient decisions.
Don’t tell me yeah, yeah, politicians are slimy and that’ll never change. Politics isn’t the same everywhere, and it isn’t the same in every era. It can get better here. Now. We need to restructure our political system to help this along, but I believe we can.
…I’M DYIN’ HERE, CHARLIE! HELP ME OUT!