TAMPA — Former Gov. Charlie Crist, who once signed a petition to put a gay marriage ban in the Florida Constitution, has filed a brief in court seeking to overturn that ban.
In the last six years, Crist said in that brief, “our society has evolved and moved past the prejudices rooted in our past.”
He added, “science has uniformly reached the conclusion that heterosexual marriages are just as valued and revered as they have ever been” despite the advent of same-sex marriage, “and children raised by gay and lesbian parents fare just as well as kids raised in straight families.”
He said the question of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples “will almost certainly not even be an issue for the children and grandchildren of this State.”
In the brief, Crist acknowledged that he supported the same-sex marriage ban in Florida while serving as governor, attorney general and education commissioner.
But he said that only puts him “in a unique position” to argue now to overturn it.
He said the ban “is not due the normal deference that Courts should apply to actions of the people in enacting amendments to the Florida constitution.”
Florida’s 1977 law banning same-sex marriage “was grounded in unlawful discrimination,” and the arguments for the 2008 constitutional amendment “have been discredited both by science and experience,” he wrote.
Crist filed the brief as a friend of the court in a Miami circuit court lawsuit seeking to overturn the ban. That case is set for a hearing July 2.
A simultaneous federal lawsuit is seeking to overturn part of the ban that prohibits the state from recognizing same-sex marriages performed legally in other states; a decision on a preliminary injunction in that case is expected any day.
In 2006 as a candidate for governor, Crist signed a petition to put the ban amendment on the Florida ballot. He later said he voted for the amendment, but while he was head of the state Republican Party as governor, the party didn’t spend money to support the campaign for the amendment.