Charlie Crist has publicly apologized to LGBT people for his past opposition to marriage equality.
The former Republican governor of Florida, who is now running for the same post as a Democrat, courted gay voters in an interview with Watermark, a Florida-based LGBT publication.
In his remarks, Crist expressed regret his past support of Amendment 2, which changed Florida’s state constitution to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions through a 2008 referendum.
“I’m sorry,” the 57-year-old politician told reporter Tom Dyer. “I’m sorry I did that. It was a mistake. I was wrong. Please forgive me.”
“I’m not perfect,” Crist added. “Please don’t hold me to that standard. And I’m sincerely sorry. I understand when it’s necessary to say I was wrong. That‘s the journey I’m on … and I’m still on it.”
In addition to marriage equality, Crist, who as recently as 2010 told CNN that he believes marriage is “a sacred institution between a man and a woman,” has also declared his support of nondiscrimination protections in employment and adoption rights for LGBT people. He credits his switch in position to a perceived negative “anti” image of the Republican Party, from which he departed.
“The Republican leadership is now perceived as being anti-women, anti-gay, anti-minority, anti-environment, anti-public education,” said Crist, who pointed to his family and upbringing as the primary reason for his decision to initially begin his political career as a Republican. “With that many antis, the room empties out. I didn’t want to be in that room anymore, and I’m delighted to be where I am.”
“Florida’s changing,” he commented. “She’s turning blue.”
Crist, who lost a 2010 U.S. Senate race as an independent before joining the Democratic Party in 2012, also addressed those who may doubt the sincerity of his political turnaround.
"There will be doubters, and they have a right to that," he stated. "But I ask that they have a little faith.”