Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is trying to make amends with the gay community—and the Democratic base–over his record on marriage equality.
The Republican-turned-Democrat, who’s running for his old job, directly apologized for previously supporting a state ban on same-sex unions during an interview published Thursday with the LGBT news outlet, Watermark Online.
“I’m sorry I did that,” Crist said in response to backing Amendment 2 to Florida’s Constitution. “It was a mistake. I was wrong. Please forgive me.”
After being pressed further, Crist once again addressed his evolving stance on the topic: “I made a mistake. I’m not perfect,” he said. “That‘s the journey I’m on… and I’m still on it.” He added, “As a Republican, on social issues I always felt I was a round peg in a square hole. I just didn’t fit. But I tried, until I couldn’t do it any more… until I had to say, ‘Enough is enough.’”
Crist’s comments mark his first explicit apology and explanation for backing the same-sex marriage ban. In the past, he’s admitted he was regretful over his decision to support the ban, telling the Miami Herald “Would I do it today? No.”
In 2010, he stood by the ban and told CNN that he believes marriage is “a sacred institution between a man and a woman.”
Crist said he was inspired by President Obama to finally come out in support of marriage equality. “Everybody deserves to love who they want to. Everybody deserves to marry who they want to. Even the Pope has said, ‘Who am I to judge.’”
As first pointed out by Watermark, his website, CharlieCrist.com, currently makes no mention of agenda to advance gay rights. Though, Crist vowed to change that. He asked the doubters to “have a little faith” in his sincerity in fighting for “fairness.”
Crist jumped ship from the Republican Party in 2009, running as an Independent for United States Senate seat instead of going for a second term as governor. But, the gamble failed to pay off: Tea Party darling Marco Rubio beat him in the election. The full 180-switch came in late-2012, when he officially became a member of the Democratic Party, but it wasn’t a surprising after speaking at the Democratic National Convention, endorsing President Obama instead of Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Crist will face former state Sen. Nan Rich of Broward County in the Democratic primary.
Largely considered a front-runner on the Democratic ticket, he would likely be up against current Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, in the general election.