Florida governor Charlie Crist, an independent candidate for U.S. Senate, appeared to voice support Sunday for a federal constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying, then clarified his position to say it applied strictly to Florida.
According to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, Crist told CNN, “When it comes to marriage, I think it is a sacred institution, I believe it is between a man and a woman, but partners living together, you know, I don’t have a problem with it.”
The Victory Fund reports that Crist issued a clarification hours afterward to say that his comments only applied to the Florida constitution.
“In an interview that aired today, I was not discussing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex marriage, which I do not support, but rather reaffirming my position regarding Florida’s constitutional ban that I articulated while running for Governor,” he said. “In fact, the interviewer’s question reflected just that. I am fully supportive of civil unions and will continue to be as a United States Senator, but believe marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman.”
Crist, elected governor as a Republican, faces former state house speaker Marco Rubio on the Republican side and Rep. Kendrick Meek on the Democratic front in the Senate race.
The transcript of the marriage equality conversation between Crist and Ed Henry on CNN’s State of the Union follows.
Henry: Another big issue, same-sex marriage. Many conservatives, like Marco Rubio, support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. But this week, the former Republican Party chairman Ken Mehlman came out and said he's gay and he called on conservatives to kind of move to the political center and be more tolerant on this issue. You have previously said in your gubernatorial campaign, you supported a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Now that you're trying to occupy the political center, are you still in favor of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage?
Crist: I feel the same way, yes, because I feel that marriage is a sacred institution, if you will. But I do believe in tolerance. I'm a live and let live kind of guy, and while I feel that way about marriage, I think if partners want to have the opportunity to live together, I don't have a problem with that.
And I think that's where most of America is. So I think that you know, you have to speak from the heart about these issues. They are very personal. They have a significant impact on an awful lot of people, and the less the government is telling people what to do, the better off we're all going to be. But when it comes to marriage, I think it is a sacred institution. I believe it is between a man and woman, but partners living together, I don't have a problem with.
Henry: But governor, doesn't it sounds like you having it both ways by saying live and let live, but I also support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage? If it's live and let live, why would you ban same-sex marriage?
Crist: Well, everything is in a matter of degree, Ed, and when it becomes to the institution of marriage, I believe that it is between a man and a woman, it's just how I feel.