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Equality Florida abandons principles in favor of Crist endorsement

Yesterday, June 12, 2014, Equality Florida's Action PAC (EQFL) endorsed Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist who has long favored and lobbied for a ban on gay marriage and on gay adoption. Crist is also the only candidate mired in the Scott Rothstein Ponzi-scheme scandal. One may think this is from the Seinfeld episode called 'Bizzaro World', however it is a fact. The political action committee has long favored Democrats and most often puts its extensive clout behind candidates it thinks can win, rather than those who may be more committed to their mission.

For example, Democrat Nan Rich is running against Crist in the Democratic primary in Florida and she has a far better track record than Crist when it comes to LGBT rights, however EQFL announced their support of Crist yesterday. In 2006, I was in a race for State Senate against Ted Deutch, and even though I mathematically beat Deutch in EQFL's own questionnaire, they gave their endorsement to Deutch.

EQFL could have endorsed candidates Nan Rich or Adrian Wyllie, who both have an unfettered record of supporting gay adoption and same-sex marriage, however yesterday, they chose to go with someone with a highly checkered past which could hurt the organization in the long run. EQFL former supporter Bryan Demeritte said today, "Very disappointed in this decision by Equality Florida. I will be withdrawing my monthly donations and sending them to Nan Rich." Supporter Laura McDermott said, "Did we suddenly skip the primary? I'm happy [that] Charlie Christ has made a personal life change (or at least has portrayed it that way) about how he feels about the LGBT+ community but his opponent Nan Rich has been a steadfast supporter in our corner her entire career. She has fought for us. She has voted to protect our families time and time again, and this is how Equality Florida chooses to act?! By not even waiting to see who has the official party endorsement before trying to sway votes away from someone who has put real action into making equality for LGBT+ Floridians a reality. I am extremely disappointed with Equality Florida's endorsement. I stand with Nan."

Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie has this to say about the same-sex marriage debate, "My position on marriage is that the government has no authority to outlaw any private agreement between consenting adults. Why would anyone have to be granted a license — which by definition is government permission to do something that would otherwise be illegal — in order to be married? The current government position is that all marriage is illegal, unless specifically permitted by government. What gives government that authority? Why should anyone have to ask government permission to love another? As governor, I would work to eliminate marriage licensing laws and leave those decisions in the realm of individuals and/or the churches."

One can see, EQFL is not the most principled of organizations and has many of its members up in arms about their choice of endorsements. EQFL co-founder Stratton Pollitzer said to outraged members with this Facebook posting, "We should not forget a politicians past positions, but I appreciate that Crist has been forthright in acknowledging and apologizing for bad stands and that he now stands with us. While governor Charlie Crist dropped his support for the adoption ban and played a critical role in dismantling it. On the day the appeals court ruled the ban unconstitutional Crist could have appealed to the supreme court or he could have waited to hear what AG Bill McCollum would do. Instead that same day he declared the ban over and worked with DCF to begin allowing gay and lesbian parent to adopt immediately. Our entire strategy is built on the premise that people can change and grow in their support for full equality. We must celebrate when people do that. We celebrated when the President came out for Marriage Equality, and we should celebrate the Charlie Crist now supports us on Marriage, Adoption, and workplace equality." He also put forth this response about their not endorsing Nan Rich, "Nan Rich has been a champion and we hope to see her in office again but this is not her race. This is a two person race between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist and we are focused on November. It is going to take everything we have to beat Rick Scott given his virtually unlimited resources and the strength of incumbency. Charlie Crist is the one candidate who is both pro-equality and who has a campaign that can go toe-to-toe with scott and win on election day."

Nan Rich publicly commented about the slight by EQFL stating this afternoon, "The belief that all Floridians deserve to be treated with fairness and equality has been one of the driving principles of my career in public service. I opposed the ban on adoptions by same sex couples, I opposed the discriminatory ban on same sex marriage, and I’m the only candidate in the race for governor who can say that. I believe the best indicator of what someone will do is what they have done. Regardless of who endorsed him today, when he was the Republican Governor of Florida Charlie Crist did not support issues important to the LGBT community. Crist opposed adoptions by same sex couples, and he signed the petition to put marriage discrimination on the ballot and was proud to say he voted for it. As a legislator I supported the LGBT community at every opportunity, and I will continue to do so as governor."

EQFL supporter, John McGovern of Boynton Beach, said this morning, "To show that they 'get it'...... this endorsement needs to be withdrawn."

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