Gay Marriage Becomes Hot Issue in Fla. Governor Race

Monday, 21 Jul 2014 03:52 PM

By John Blosser

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Same-sex marriage is emerging as a crucial "Keys" issue in the upcoming Florida governor's battle, with both candidates, incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, appearing cautiously uncertain about just where to take a stand on the contentious issue.

When two bartenders in gay-friendly Key West, Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, went to court to seek their right to marry, despite a 2008 constitutional ban on gay marriages approved by Florida voters in 2008, Monroe County Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia sided with them, and found the ban unconstitutional, the Miami Herald reports.

But the same judge on Monday rejected the men's request to be allowed to marry immediately. Even though Garcia found the ban unconstitutional, an automatic stay is in place until the issue is heard through the appellate court system, or Garcia himself issues further rulings.

State Attorney General Pam Biondi has already announced her intention to appeal Garcia's decision.

At a meeting in Pompano Beach, Scott, 61, told the Herald, "In 2008, the voters of the state decided that marriage would be between a man and a woman, traditional marriage. It's gone to the courts. The courts will end up deciding.

"In my case, I believe in traditional marriage. Also, I don't want anybody discriminated against."

Reporters pressed Scott as to how he voted on gay marriage in 2008, and he said, "I would have voted for the traditional marriage."

In Scott's officially released statement, he said he "supports traditional marriage, consistent with the amendment approved by Florida voters in 2008, but does not believe that anyone should be discriminated against for any reason."

Crist, 57, who switched from Republican to independent and, most recently, to Democrat, has a history of waffling on the gay marriage issue as well. After signing a petition in favor of the ban on gay marriage and adoption and reaffirming his opposition, Crist changed his mind a year ago, writing on his Facebook page, "I most certainly support marriage equality in Florida and look forward to the day it happens here."

He has since apologized for his position against gay marriage, said he has always supported civil unions, and told Politifact, "I have come to the conclusion, as the Pope said himself, 'Who am I to judge?' I've always been a live-and-let-live kind of guy. That's what's in my heart."

Where a Florida candidate stands on gay marriage can have a hefty impact on election results. The Williams Institute stated in 2010 that there were 48,496 same-sex couples living in Florida. Should the gay marriage ban ultimately be held to be unconstitutional, it is likely there will be a sudden same-sex rush to Sunshine State altars. 

Judge Garcia stated in his ruling, "The court is aware that the majority of voters oppose same-sex marriage, but it is our country's proud history to protect the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular and rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority," The Miami Herald reports.  


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