Last December, Florida’s former Republican Governor, Charlie Crist, told a group of reporters who asked if he regretted signing a petition banning same-sex marriage in the state constitution, “I think the best way to judge where my heart is, is to look at the deeds that I have done, whether as attorney general [or] as governor…”
Since last September’s Democratic National Convention, I’ve been eagerly awaiting Charlie Crist to prove that he has a compassionate heart, and clearly argue his position on marriage equality. I have also been waiting for the Democratic National Committee and President Obama to make things right with LGBT Convention delegates, and facilitate a meaningful dialogue with Crist on issues important to LGBT Floridians. Both the DNC and President Obama have fallen flat on their faces and failed miserably to ensure such opportunities existed between Crist and LGBT activists.
In the days leading up to the 2012 Democratic National Convention, I publicly raised the issue as the only openly-gay elected delegate (out of eight delegates who were representing DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s congressional district at the Convention). Officials from the DNC shamefully berated me when Steve Rothaus of the Miami Herald published a blog post entitled “Gay Democratic Delegate: Convention Speaker Charlie Crist ‘the Ultimate Political Whore’.”
On March 27, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). LGBT activists have been applauding the leadership of many Democrats and Republicans who signed on to amicus briefs arguing DOMA’s unconstitutionality.
Remarkably, no amicus brief was submitted by Charlie Crist, who is reported to be employed by the Orlando-based mega-law firm of Morgan & Morgan. Crist is said to be earning an annual salary of $1,000,000, and I find it mind boggling that given all the resources of that law firm, Crist decided instead to audition for the hybrid role of the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion (from the “Wizard of Oz”), choosing to remain silent on the DOMA arguments before the Supreme Court.
It was a missed opportunity for Crist to prove he has a compassionate heart, as well as an opportunity for the DNC and President Obama to make amends for their insensitivity concerning Crist’s speech last year at the Democratic National Convention.
Throughout Crist’s political career, he always hid in the closet or pandered to religious conservatives when a controversial issue demanded a real leader to step forward.
Charlie Crist, I’m following your advice: I’m judging you on your past action for supporting a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Florida, and for the absence of your leadership in the argument about the unconstitutional nature of DOMA.
Michael Emanuel Rajner is the Legislative Director for the Florida Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Democratic Caucus, and serves on the Broward County Human Rights Board. A slightly different version of this piece originally appeared at The Bilerico Project.