Gov. Charlie Crist is moving in the right direction now that he has left the Republican Party and freed himself from pandering to its conservative base. Last week, the independent candidate for the U.S. Senate eased his stance on Cuba. Then he said he no longer supports Florida's ban on gay couples adopting children. Crist's transformation may be about politics. But the governor is lending his voice to decency and moving Florida forward.
Crist embraced President Barack Obama's decision last year to relax travel barriers for Cuban-Americans who wish to visit their relatives on the island. Crist supports the Democratic administration's decision to retain the trade embargo, but to allow Cuban-Americans to freely visit relatives on the island and to send money. Former President George W. Bush imposed tough restrictions limiting family visits to one every three years. He also limited how much money Cuban-Americans could send.
Bush's restrictions were an affront to the right Americans have to travel freely and without government interference. They also kept families apart, adding to the misery that Cubans have suffered for generations. Bush also handed Cuba's communist government a public relations opportunity to blame the United States for splitting up Cuban families and denying them access to much needed cash. If Crist's position wins him votes or campaign contributions, it will be a recognition that the old restrictions aimed at Cuba have failed and that it is time for a new direction.
The governor pivoted again on gay rights. He no longer supports Florida's blanket ban against gay couples from adopting children, the only such prohibition in the country. Crist said he now favors allowing judges to make those decisions on "a case-by-case basis." That is the practical, decent thing to do. With some 19,000 children in foster care, the state should be doing everything it can to find these children strong, safe and permanent homes. Detractors may dismiss Crist as a political opportunist. But it is good to see him use the opportunity of a U.S. Senate race to move toward the middle.