Gay Issues May Rise in Governor's Race

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 Written By: Scott Powers

This may be the year that gay political clout comes out of the closet in a Florida governor's race.

Gay activists and others sympathetic to their causes are eyeing the 2014 governor's race as an opening, with a Democratic candidate, Charlie Crist, who professes to support the call for equal rights for marriage and workplace anti-discrimination.

"The LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] community has just emerged, as both a political and economic force in politics," said Bob Poe, a longtime Democratic fundraiser from Orlando who is chairman of Crist's independent fundraising committee, Charlie Crist for Florida.

Crist, who did not support gay-rights causes when he was governor from 2006-10 and even signed the measure that put Florida's ban on gay marriage on the ballot, now is openly courting gay support. He offered his support for gay marriage in wide-ranging interview he gave last month to Watermark, a newspaper that markets to Florida's gay community.

And last week Crist attended a private fundraiser in Winter Park promoted as a chance to discuss his views on gay rights. Brad Grosberg, who co-hosted the event with Phil Kean, said Crist was warmly received.

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