A week from today, I will be co-hosting a cocktail party for gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist at the home of Fort Lauderdale city commissioner Dean Trantalis.

This is creating some waves in the LGBT community, with a number of community leaders asking how I can support today someone who has fought us for so long. They are legitimate inquiries, and I will answer them here.

Very simply, if someone is late to your birthday party, it's still polite to welcome them in. As Governor, Charlie Christ clearly supported the ban on same sex marriages and steadfastly opposed allowing gays to adopt children. He was wrong, and he set us back. There is no denying that.

There is also no denying that a multitude of politicians have taken time to evolve on a variety of social issues, from gay rights to medical marijuana. His team of slow-to-join-the-crowd includes everyone from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama. What was, was. All we can and should do today is say 'thank you for coming around,' and 'welcome to the party.'

Governor, we appreciate your apology, and accept your support. It took the Dalai Lama awhile to get to the right place in history as well. Last week, himself an exile for the past 50 years, the international spiritual leader from Tibet embraced gay marriage. Since no predominantly Buddhist nation allows gay marriage, the Dalai Lama’s recognition of the same is important for millions of his spiritual followers, not only here in the United States, but throughout the world.

As important as political advances are, and as good as some court rulings have been for the LGBT community, nothing is more important than winning the hearts and minds of our family and friends. Nothing advances that cause more than when national and world leaders, who have historically been silent, embrace our agenda as legitimate and worthy. To the Dalai Lama then, let's not lambast where he was. Let's just say thank you for the place he arrived at today.

Last week, the Jewish National Fund, one of the most important organizations in the founding of the modern State of Israel and a very conservative organization, announced that it would be hosting its first ever mission to Israel for the LGBT community. Shocked would be one way to describe this, but simply appreciative would be a wiser and better reaction. It's just one more group being more expansive in their breadth. They are reaching out to us. Let's just say thank you for getting there.

One more guy has helped us out a lot this past year, without passing any laws. It's some senior citizen from the Vatican we all call the Pope. Simply by being non judgmental, and embracing the right of homosexuals to live our lives homosexually, Pope Francis has made the bridge wider. He is quietly saying there is room for everyone within the circle.

The pope is sending out a subliminal message of unprecedented universal tolerance. In tone and substance, his words "Who am I to judge" last March, referencing gays in the Catholic Church, were the most powerful words ever spoken by a pontiff to the LGBT community, anytime, anywhere.

In the last 24 hours, there has even been a discussion suggesting the Vatican could support gay civil unions in the future. New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said that the pontiff wants the Catholic Church to study same-sex unions, ‘rather than condemn them.’ That's stunning in itself. Instead of censure, concern. Wow. That is one powerful message to send to the one billion Roman Catholics on this Earth.

Next Wednesday, one of my co-hosts at the party for Charlie Crist, will be my business partner at SFGN, Pier Guidugli. I call him the bitchy Italian. But I confess. He called it correctly. He was ahead of the curve. He wanted me to put Pope Francis on our cover last October. We would have been the first LGBT publication to do so. Advocate Magazine beat us to it in December.

Instead of Pope Francis, I put Charlie Crist on the cover, noting that he was not only now supportive of gay marriage, but regrets having supported the constitutional amendment banning them. Crist was not only the first Republican governor to have ever addressed the NAACP, he now as a Democratic candidate endorses the medical marijuana amendment. Today, he also supports many gay issues. So join with me next Wednesday at Commissioner Dean Trantalis's home, and welcome him as a new friend.

After all, who are we to judge?


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