Florida's Governor Suddenly Sunny on Subject of Gay Adoption
Conservatives in Florida are checking Gov. Charlie Crist's basement for pods.
They fear space aliens may have taken over his brain. Gay space aliens.
Elected as a "traditional family" Republican in 2006, Crist is now an independent running for the U.S. Senate, and has softened his views toward same-sex adoption.
Is it a sign of the End of Times? Possibly, brothers and sisters. More likely, however, it's the sign of an election year.
Although firmly opposed to same-sex adoption four years ago, Crist announced Sept. 13 that he's considering dropping the state's effort to uphold its ban on such adoptions.
Why? Crist says he's had an "appropriate evolution" in his thinking on gay rights.
"Not a whole lot has changed, to be candid," he tells the Florida Sun-Sentinel and other newspapers. "I also said (back in 2006) that I'm a live-and-let-live kind of guy. And I am."
Uh-huh, Rand Hoch, president of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, tells the Sun-Sentinel.
"Charlie just hasn't done anything," Hoch tells the newspaper. "He's said stuff. But actions speak louder than words. He's trying to get elected."
If so, he's off to a bad start.
The 54-year-old politician was considered the front-runner for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by George LeMieux. After getting trounced by House Speaker Antonio Rubo, however, Crist became an independent.
He's now taking a much softer line on gay rights than traditional Republican politics allow. In addition to his shift on same-sex adoption, Crist says he supports ending the military's "don't-ask-don't-tell" policy and providing legally protected civil unions for gay couples.
He remains mum, however, on the subject of full gay marriage.
Florida's legal conflict over same-sex adoption stems from a 2008 ruling by a Miami-Dade County judge that the state's ban on same-sex adoption was unconstitutional. Attorney General Bill McCollum's office launched an appeal of the ruling on behalf of the Florida Department of Children and Families, an agency that reports to the governor.
Crist tells the Sun-Sentinel he's no longer sure about the appeal.
"I think we need to review that," he says, adding that judges should decide who can adopt a child. "I think that most who follow the judiciary recognize that what's in the best interest of the child is what should be paramount in these kinds of decisions."
Florida is the only state that out-and-out bans same-sex adoption.
McCollum found himself in a political brier patch Aug. 3, when he defended the ban on personal religious grounds.
"I don't believe that the people who do this (practice homosexuality) should be raising our children," he told the editor of the Florida Baptist Witness. "It's not a natural thing. You need a mother and a father. You need a man and a woman. That's what God intended."
A week later, he told the press he was content to let the legal process take its course.
One person is absolutely sure he doesn't want the state to drop its case. Martin Gill, of Miami, started the court case when he was prevented from adopting two foster children. The Sun-Sentinel reports he and his partner want to see the case go to the Florida Supreme Court.
"What we have now is a court decision that has evaluated all the evidence and found the law is based on smoke and mirrors," Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, tells the newspaper. "It's based on outdated prejudice. The governor is not doing any favors for the children in foster care and to gay families in Florida by bringing a premature halt to this case. This case has been so thoroughly litigated. Let the legal process run its course."
Related: Candidates' Remarks on Gay Foster Parents Raise Eyebrows
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.