MORE

Charlie Crist Challenges Rick Scott to Not Defend Gay Marriage Ban

Charlie Crist Challenges Rick Scott to Not Defend Gay Marriage Ban
Michele Eve Sandberg

Same-sex marriages could become legal in Florida as soon as September 22, thanks to a 33-page ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle last week. That is, if Rick Scott doesn't file an appeal to stop it.

Gay rights advocates, including Rand Hoch, Florida's first openly gay judge, have already called on Scott not to intervene.

Now Charlie Crist has stepped into the fray, taking it up a notch by penning an open letter to Scott to not get in the way of Florida lifting the ban on same-sex marriage.

See also: Florida's Same-Sex Couples Could Start Marrying on September 22 If Rick Scott Team Lets Court Ruling Stand

Crist doesn't mince words, coming out saying that when he was first governor, he was faced with a similar situation:

Four years ago, a district court of appeals ruled Florida's ban on gay and lesbian adoption unconstitutional.

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 then challenges Scott to do the same with this recent ruling:

Last Thursday Federal District Judge Robert Hinkle gave you the same chance to speak out for what is right when, in a ruling that would apply statewide, he struck down Florida's ban on same sex marriage. 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.

Crist, who announced his support for gay marriage last year, does manage to get political in the letter -- although the letter in and of itself is a giant political gauntlet being laid down. Crist tells Scott outright that Floridians deserve a governor who looks out for the best interest of everyone, not just a select few:

Courts throughout Florida are endorsing the principle that government ought not deprive an entire class of citizens the right to marry simply because of whom they love. Florida deserves a governor who will stand up for all of the people of this state.

And the challenge is a simple one: Scott can simply do nothing. No appeals, no injunctions. Just let the ruling stand and let Florida join other parts of the country that are coming around on same-sex marriage.

All in all, it's a savvy move by Crist, who has either failed to pull away or has fallen a bit behind Scott in recent polls.

It puts Scott, who is spending millions on campaign ads attacking Crist's integrity as a former Republican turned Independent turned Democrat, on the defensive.

And Crist seems to be getting the backing of prominent gay-rights groups like Equality Florida.

"Four years ago Charlie Crist stood up for our families and declared Florida's ban on adoption by gay and lesbian parents over," said Stratton Pollitzer, deputy director of Equality Florida, via a news release following Crist's letter. "He did what was best for thousands of children hoping for a loving home, and he did what was best for Florida.

"Rick Scott has a chance to do the right thing too," Pollitzer adds, "by directing the Surgeon General and the Secretary of Management Services not to appeal Judge Hinkle's ruling that would overturn Florida's ban on marriage equality. If there is no appeal, than the marriage ban would end on September 22, the four-year anniversary of the day the adoption ban ended."

You can read Crist's full letter, as well as Hinkle's ruling, below:

Dear Governor Scott:

Four years ago, a district court of appeals ruled Florida's ban on gay and lesbian adoption unconstitutional.

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.

Last Thursday Federal District Judge Robert Hinkle gave you the same chance to speak out for what is right when, in a ruling that would apply statewide, he struck down Florida's ban on same sex marriage. 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.

Courts throughout Florida are endorsing the principle that government ought not deprive an entire class of citizens the right to marry simply because of whom they love. Florida deserves a governor who will stand up for all of the people of this state.

You have the power to end the suffering of people like Arlene Goldberg. Last March, Arlene lost her wife and partner of 47 years, Carol Goldwasser. At a moment of enormous and understandable grief, Arlene had to suffer the humiliation of not being listed as Carol's wife on the death certificate. Even worse, she lost her home because she was denied the social security benefits they had earned.

When faced with a very similar decision four years ago I did what I believed was best for Florida and best for the thousands of children waiting to be adopted by loving parents.

Today, I urge you to do what's best for Floridians and declare the State will not be challenging Judge Hinkle's Order or any other orders supporting the rights of all Floridians to marry.

Respectfully, Charlie Crist

237442096 Grimsley v Scott Order Granting Preliminary Injunction 2 by Chris Joseph

Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph. Follow Chris Joseph on Twitter




Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >