Charlie Crist, the Republican governor of Florida, will reportedly introduce a package of gay rights measures in the state, although marriage equality will not be one of them.
According to RawStory.com, which obtained a copy of a position paper at the weekend, Mr Crist wants to grant gay couples rights around adoption, hospital visits and inheritance.
The plans also mention anti-discrimination protections and opposition to the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, plus HIV/AIDS programmes.
Mr Crist is known to oppose gay marriage, although the document contains language for civil unions.
It said: “I believe that the government should not make it harder for people to take care of their loved ones.
“I believe civil unions that provide the full range of legal protections should be available to gay couples. That includes access to a loved one in the hospital, inheritance rights, the fundamental things people need to take care of their families.”
Nadine Smith, director of Equality Florida, told RawStory.com: “It’s great to hear a sitting governor take such a strong stand on equality issues.
“This is the first time in Florida’s history that a sitting governor has taken these public positions on a wide range of LGBT equality issues. It marks a shift in the debate in our state.”
Mr Crist, who is married, was featured in a 2009 documentary Outrage, which examined the anti-gay voting records of allegedly gay politicians.