Gay rights groups and politicians are offering a mixed reaction to Florida Governor Charlie Crist's endorsement of a package of gay rights bills.

The former Republican now running for the U.S. Senate as an independent released a document Monday endorsing a number of gay rights initiatives, but stopped short of backing gay marriage. Instead, Crist reiterated his long-standing belief that the government should recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions.

In the document, Crist says he supports efforts to end Florida's ban on gay adoption – a stance he only previously hinted at – because the law puts politics before the best interest of the child.

Immigration Equality, a Washington D.C.-based group that lobbies for the rights of gay immigrants, said it was pleased to see the governor supporting passage of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), a controversial bill that Congress has previously attempted to attach to immigration reform measures with little luck. The UAFA would allow gay Americans to sponsor a spouse for citizenship over the objections of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that forbids federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

“Florida is home to nearly 3,000 LGBT bi-national families, and the governor's position is welcome news to those who struggle every day simply to keep their families together, and be with the person they love,” Steve Ralls, spokesman for Immigration Equality, told On Top Magazine in an email.

“Each time an elected leader chooses to stand with those families, we move one step closer to passing UAFA. There is, indeed, no more pro-family position than one supporting the right of all families to be safe, protected and equal under the law.”

Crist also said he backs repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 1993 that forbids gay troops from serving openly, a federal gay-inclusive anti-bullying measure, and a federal bill that would allow the spouses of gay government workers access to benefits.

Other groups, however, appeared hesitant to take Crist at his word, and at least one politician suggested Crist is lying.

“Crist is obviously trying to win an election, which is easier for him with three candidates than with two,” Rand Hoch, president and founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, told us.

Hoch said his group has been lobbying the governor to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination in state employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity (transgender protections) since 2006.

On the group's latest request, Hoch said: “Basically, the response from the campaign was that if Crist issued an executive order now, it would look like he was pandering to the LGBT community. Our response was, we had no objection to his pandering.”

“Over the years, I have tried to give Charlie Crist the benefit of the doubt, but I can no longer do that. There have just been too many times he could have supported our community and either chose not to do so or actively came out against our interests,” Hoch added, referring to Crist's support for placing a constitutional ban on gay marriage in Florida's Constitution.

Kendrick Meek, Crist's Democratic rival and a strong supporter of gay rights, suggested the governor was lying.

“Can anyone believe anything Charlie Crist says anymore?” Meek Spokesman Abe Dyk said in a statement. “It's obvious Charlie Crist is willing to say anything. The only thing Charlie Crist says today that you can believe tomorrow is that he wants to be elected. 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. The governor's charade trying to hide his lifelong conservative record just to get elected is an insult to every Floridian.”

Crist's Republican rival in the three-man race, Marco Rubio, opposes gay rights.