Gay activists in Florida remain optimistic that Governor Charlie Crist has turned a corner on gay rights, despite recent stumbles.

The former Republican now running for the U.S. Senate as an independent released a document last month endorsing a number of gay rights initiatives, but stopped short of backing gay marriage.

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.

Pointing to a videotaped interview with the Palm Beach Post where Crist appears to backtrack on the issue, Congressman Kendrick Meek, Crist's Democratic rival, suggested the governor's gay rights endorsement is not sincere.

When asked in the interview if his position that “children do best in a home with a mother and a father” has changed, Crist, after a long pause, answers: “No. What's changed is we have a court ruling that says that the law is unconstitutional. That's what has changed. And I respect the law.” (Video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)

While some gay activists say Crist's rhetoric on gay rights remains precarious, others are willing to accept his sincerity.

Rand Hoch, president and founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, said that while he was initially dubious about Crist's new-found gay support, continued dialogue with the Crist campaign is encouraging.

“His campaign has been keeping the lines of communication open,” Hoch told On Top Magazine in an email. “The more I hear from them, the more I am being convinced that perhaps, freed of the constraints of the Republican party, Charlie Crist truly is coming into his own on LGBT issues.”

“Whenever we have an opportunity where an elected official, like Governor Crist, previously opposed an LGBT issue we need to appreciate the fact that there is movement in the right direction,” C.J. Ortuno, executive director of the gay rights group SAVE Dade, said.

But veteran gay activist R. Zeke Fread, founder and executive director of Pride Tampa Bay, remained unmoved.

“He's burned the GLBT equality bridge too many times for us to take him at this word,” Fread told On Top Magazine. “Crist is attempting to court the gay vote, plain and simple.”

While Ortuno and Hoch are keeping an open mind, both of the groups they helm have endorsed Meek to represent Florida in the U.S. Senate.