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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

If a constitutional ban on oil drilling is redundant, what about gay marriage?

13

July

From Marco Rubio to Bill McCollum to Larry Cretul, top Florida Republicans say Gov. Charlie Crist's special session to consider a constitutional ban on oil drilling is a costly redundancy. State law already prohibits drilling in state waters, they say.

Whether a $50,000-a-day special session is needed is a legitimate matter of debate, and no doubt Crist is seeking a political edge in his U.S. Senate race. But the double down talk could use a history check.

That line of thinking was pushed aside when antigay marriage forces pushed a constitutional amendment to ban something that has been banned under state law since 1997. Urged by Tom Lee, the Republican Party of Florida contributed $300,000 to the citizen petition campaign.

Then-Gov. Jeb Bush called it unnecessary when the idea surfaced in 2005 but later said the amendment may be needed to protect against challenges to the state law. Many Republicans agreed. The amendment passed in 2008. Today, Crist and his allies are saying the same thing about oil drilling. The challenge this time would not come from an activist court; rather from a pro-drilling Legislature.

Where was Crist amid the gay marriage debate?

All over the place.

  • At one point, Crist said an amendment was unnecessary because state law already banned gay marriage.
  • Then he signing one of the citizen petitions.
  • Later he said he supported civil unions, a "live and let live" philosophy.
  • After being elected, he insisted the party should spend its time and money on other things.

"I think that the people care about issues like insurance premiums. They care about property taxes. They care about public safety," Crist told reporters in February 2007. "And I think it's important that not only those of us in government, but the party, focus on those issues, too.''

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:47am]

    

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