“On Tuesday, Delaware became the 11th state to allow marriage equality,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “And just a few days ago, Rhode Island adopted a similar measure, which followed victories last fall in Maine, Maryland and Washington. I most certainly support marriage equality in Florida and look forward to the day it happens here.”
Crist, a former Republican who joined the Democratic Party late last year, in 2006 signed a petition in support of a state constitutional amendment that defined marriage in the Sunshine State as between a man and a woman. Florida voters approved the ban in 2008 by a 62-38 percent margin.
The possible 2014 gubernatorial candidate in December said he now regrets his decision to sign the petition.
Crist, who has also faced persistent questions about his sexual orientation, is among the purportedly closeted politicians who supported anti-LGBT proposals that the 2009 film “Outrage” features.
The former Florida governor did not immediately respond to the Washington Blade’s requests for comment.
LGBT rights advocates in the state welcomed his announcement.
“His position on this issue reflects the evolution of Florida voters,” Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith said.
A Public Religion Research Institute poll released in March shows 54 percent of Floridian respondents support marriage rights for gays and lesbians. A Public Policy Polling survey conducted the same month noted 75 percent of Florida voters support either marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson last month backed same-sex marriage after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases that challenge the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who represents portions of Miami-Dade County, also supports nuptials for gays and lesbians.
“We applaud former Gov. Crist’s embrace of recognizing that every Floridian has a right to marry the person they love,” CJ Ortuño of SAVE Dade, an LGBT rights group based in Miami-Dade County, told the Blade. “The growing support of marriage equality shows that our voices and collective efforts are having a real impact.”