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Transcript: The Other Awkward Moment in Florida's Governor Debate

Transcript: The Other Awkward Moment in Florida's Governor Debate

Everything that happened during Wednesday night's Florida gubernatorial debate was overshadowed by that silliness about a fan, including an awkward exchange about marriage equality. 

Governor Rick Scott at first refused to come on stage during the live televised debate because he claimed the rules banned candidates from using electronics, including fans. Challenger Charlie Crist had taken his personal fan to the podium to keep cool. Eventually Scott caved and joined Crist on stage. That's the first thing everyone knows about that debate.

But, it also included a back-and-forth about marriage equality, in which the audience gasped because Scott wouldn't say whether a ban on same-sex marriage is discriminatory. Scott did, however, say he's for "traditional marriage." Then Crist got cheers for supporting same-sex marriage. 

MODERATOR: Governor Scott, you say that you are against discrimination, but the courts have said Florida's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional because it is discriminatory. Do you think the ban is discriminatory?

SCOTT: Well let's think about where we are. None of us believe in discrimination. I clearly do not believe in any discrimination. In 2008, part of our Democratic process, led by Charlie, there was a constitutional amendment passed that said marriage is between a man and a woman. While I believe in traditional marriage, we have to understand that people have different views. It is going through the court system, and whatever the Supreme Court decided, they will decide what the law in Florida is and I will abide by the law. What is important to me is that we need to understand that people have different views. We should have ill will because people have different views. We have to remember, all this started with Charlie as governor. 

MODERATOR: I am not sure I got an answer to the question: Do you believe the ban is discriminatory?

SCOTT: I do not believe in discrimination. [Gasps from audience] I don't believe in discrimination, I believe in traditional marriage. The court is going to decide and this is a decision for the courts and they will make the decision. 

CRIST: I don't believe in discrimination either. And I don't believe in it so much that I believe that gay couples should have the right to marry.[Applause] And I think that the best way to capture this — Rosemary, you tried to get an answer, it's difficult — but I think the best way to capture this is to understand that, who is it for us to tell other people who to love? And what is it in our right to tell other people who to marry?

Unlike the leadership of some other states, Scott and his attorney general, Pam Bondi, are defending the ban in legal challenges, arguing it's constitutional (which presumably means they think it isn't discriminatory). Crist and Scott are presently tied in the latest poll, each getting 40 percent of the vote. 

But never mind all that, there's this thing about a fan.

"Are we really going to debate about a fan?" Crist asked from stage when Scott refused to come out. "Or are we going to talk about education, and the environment and the future of our state. I mean, really."

(Watch video of the exchange about marriage equality at C-SPAN)

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