Equality Florida, the Human Rights Campaign, and Safeguarding American Values for Everyone (SAVE) endorse Charlie Crist for Florida governor on Sept. 14, 2022. Source: Screenshot/Crist Facebook page
Florida LGBTQ+ civil rights advocacy groups plan to rally voters for this year’s gubernatorial election and they’re backing former U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist to unseat Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“Ron DeSantis, your war on LGBTQ Floridians ends in 2022,” said Joe Saunders, a former Florida House member.
Saunders, senior political director the the statewide LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality Florida, was joined by members from the Human Rights Campaign PAC, SAVE (Safeguarding American Values for Everyone) Action PAC, and the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus to announce their “strong, passionate and excited endorsement” of Crist.
The endorsements come as the Republican DeSantis administration has approved legislative restrictions and agency rules to limit the freedoms of the LGBTQ+ community.
This includes banning certain instruction in LGBTQ+ topics in public schools, prohibiting transgender girls and women from playing on women’s sports teams, and and restricting access to gender-affirming care through Medicaid.
“We are voters, donors, and activists who are fed up with the blind ambitions and the relentless attacks of Gov. Ron DeSantis,” Saunders said.
Saunders added that the coalition is ready to make “historic investments in grassroots organizing” — “in mail, digital, texting, and get-out-the-vote phone programs to ensure that our supporters, our community, get out to vote in this election. And we vote for Charlie Crist.”
The press conference, which took place at Wilton Manors, a city in Broward County, was hosted by the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus out of the Florida Democratic Party.
Crist is the Democratic nominee for the 2022 gubernatorial election. He was previously a Republican Florida governor, attorney general, and education commissioner over the years before he became a Democrat. He recently stepped down from Congress to focus on his campaign.
Ryan Wilson, regional campaign director of the Human Rights Campaign, said that DeSantis is “one of the most anti-LGBTQ+ politicians in the country” and “is an existential threat to the LGBTQ+ community in Florida.”
“Our program is going mobilize more than 2 million what we call ‘equality voters’ in Florida, for whom LGBTQ equality is a make-or-break issue — through volunteer canvassing, phone banking, and voter registration, among other things,” Wilson said.
HRC is one of the largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organizations in the country, and Wilson said the organization will focus on increasing voter turnout among pro-LGBTQ+ voters. He added that HRC will add “additional full-time staff to our work in Florida, alongside more than 400 active volunteers across the state.”
Crist, who was also at the press conference, said he was honored to receive the endorsements.
Crist called DeSantis a “nightmare.”
“DeSantis attacks people, like trans kids and their parents, because he’s a bully. And he’s weak. And he doesn’t care,” Crist said.
Crist said that if he’s elected governor, he would “sign an executive order to protect LGBTQ Floridians from discrimination.” He also said he would work to repeal HB 1557, formally titled the “Parental Rights in Education” law but often dubbed by critics the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law.
The general election will take place on Nov. 8, and Crist encouraged Floridians to “vote like hell.”
“Vote like like your lives depend on it, because it does,” Crist said. “Your freedom depends on it. Your life depends on it. Your respect depends on it.”
Although the LGBTQ+ community is often seen as a more liberal demographic, it should be noted that there are Republicans who identify as LGBTQ+ and may approve of DeSantis’ policies.
Some groups, such as the Log Cabin Republicans, have previously defended policies such as the contentious “Parental Rights in Education” law, Newsweek has reported.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.