Vote No On 2 Campaign's Fan Box

Friday, February 16, 2007

Saint Pete Times Editorial: Gay marriage rightly goes on back burner

Gay marriage rightly goes on back burner

Published February 16, 2007

Florida law already prevents people of the same gender from marrying each other, so a constitutional ban is necessary only if the objective is to draw moralists to the polls. To his credit, Gov. Charlie Crist says he wants no part in that.

The state Republican Party under chairwoman Carole Jean Jordan went so far as to dump $300,000 into a campaign to put the issue on the 2006 ballot. But the Florida Coalition to Protect Marriage came up short last year and will have to finish the job without party money. Crist's own protege, Jim Greer, is now party chairman, and the governor says he has other priorities.

Crist is showing his appealing pragmatism, preferring to redirect the debate from divisive social issues to the more pressing daily matters of insurance, taxes and public safety. "I'm convinced those are the kinds of issues that the people of Florida want us to focus on," he told reporters, "and I think it would be appropriate for the party to do the same, and I believe they will."
The supporters of the constitutional ban are miffed by Crist's directive, especially since he signed a petition. But they can't be surprised by either his populist priorities or his sensitivity to gay rights. He has said he supports the legal protections accorded by civil unions, and remarked in his Republican primary debate that: "I guess I have a bit more of a 'live and let live' attitude than my opponent does."

Same-sex marriage is being used as a political weapon by Republicans, but most Floridians are far more interested in safe neighborhoods and good schools. Crist is on the right track.