At least one Republican governor in the country, Florida Gov. Charlies Crist, is telling his fellow Republicans to get their priorities straight and stop spending money pushing anti-gay marriage initiatives. Although Crist supported the initiative efforts in the past, he's had a change of heart since becoming the state's governor. The Miami Herald's Marc Caputo writes:
Republican Gov. Charlie Crist said today his political party should spend its time and money on issues that are ''more pressing'' than the anti-gay marriage initiative it has funded for the past two years.
Though not a surprise to backers of the initiative, the governor's statements still concerned social conservatives who had doubts about Crist's conservative bonafides before he was elected last year.
Under his predecessor, Gov. Jeb Bush, the Florida GOP spent $300,000 touting the proposed state constitutional amendment narrowly defining marriage between a man and woman. The GOP money was 54 percent of the total raised by the amendment's backers, Florida4Marriage.org, which is still shy 28,000 voter-signed petitions to get the measure on the 2008 ballot.
Crist signed the petition and publicly endorsed the measure. Beyond that, though, he says he has other things to worry about.
''I just think [the Republican Party's] money can be better spent on other things that may be more pressing, like elections, for example,'' Crist said today. ``I think that the people care about issues like insurance premiums. They care about property taxes. They care about public safety. And I think it's important that not only those of us in government -- but the party -- focus on those issues, too.''
Mat Staver, an attorney who argued for the amendment before the Florida Supreme Court, said Crist's statement was not a retreat from his pledge of support for the amendment. But he thinks Crist is wrong about whether the amendment is a priority.
''Charlie Crist has his priorities misplaced if he thinks it's not money well spent,'' Staver, who is the law school dean of the Lynchburg, Virg.-based Liberty University, said. ``It's one of the most important issues government can face. It deals with the marriage and the family.''
Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) would do well to listen up and encourage his own fellow Republicans in the Indiana legislature to knock off their bigoted attack on Indiana's gay and lesbian citizens. If SJR-7 is enacted, he can shit can his higher ed initiatives, because our state's universities are going to see talented professors and researchers leaving this state and avoiding coming here in the first place if Indiana law institutionalizes second class status for some of its citizens. No amount of money will erase the negative stigma that will forever be emblazoned on our state.