The Washington Times - September 13, 2010, 04:30PM

Senate candidate Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida has ramped up support for gay rights in an attempt to woo voters away form Democratic nominee Rep. Kendrick B. Meek. 

The moderate Republican-turned-independent candidate had, in recent years, been more lukewarm on the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans-gender persons (LGBT). But in a new policy paper, Crist said he backs the proposed Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act that would provide legal protections for gay couples because “like most Americans, I believe the government should make it easier, not harder, for people to take care of their loved ones.” 

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Crist said he is in favor of civil unions for all people. “That includes access to a loved one in the hospital, inheritance rights, the fundamental things people need to take care of their families,” he said

He stopped short of saying that marriage rights should be extended to LGBT. 

The governor also said he supports the anti-discrimination laws in the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act and says it’s time to repeal the federal government’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell” policy that prevents gays from serving openly in the military.

But Meek, who trails Crist and Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio in most polls, said Crist’s calls for gay-rights protections is “too little, too late,” noting that the governor recently changed his position on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“The only thing we know about Charlie Crist’s track record is that he is a lifelong conservative Republican who has fought against every Democratic value,” said Abe Dyk, Kendrick Meek’s campaign manager. “The governor’s charade trying to hide his lifelong conservative record just to get elected is an insult to every Floridian.”