Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) — who cited the terror attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando as a reason to run for Senate again — has defended his decision to appear at a conference sponsored by a Christian, anti-LGBTQ organization.
In a statement sent to the Tampa Bay Times, Rubio explained that his appearance at the Liberty Counsel-sponsored event called “Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project” is a “celebration of faith” with local pastors and faith leaders. He also criticized the media and liberal activists for “label[ing] a gathering of faith leaders as an anti-LGBT event.”
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Because I believe that a strong America is not possible without strong families and strong values, for years now I have participated in events hosted by faith leaders to speak about the cultural and social issues before America, including the importance of parents and families, religious liberties and combatting poverty.
I have always supported a traditional definition of marriage. But I recognize that a significant number of Americans hold a different view. Because marriage is regulated by the individual states, they have the right to petition their state legislature to change the law. And those of us who support traditional marriage also have a right to oppose those efforts.
But LGBTQ activists with the group Faith in America are “incredulous” about Rubio’s appearance, saying he “is willing to collude with individuals who are dedicated to oppressing LGBT people.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the Christian legal fund Liberty Counsel as a “hate group” after it said same-sex marriage “devalues” marriage and would destroy the “bedrock of society.” Liberty Counsel also supports anti-trans bathroom bills in various states. And the organization’s president Mat Staver represented Kim Davis, the county clerk who was jailed for resisting marriage equality in Kentucky.
“The beliefs shared by this group actively harm LGBT people,” the Faith in America statementcontinued. “This is not the America we want. God will not be found anywhere near that event.”
In the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that marriage equality is a constitutional right protected by the 14th Amendment, making it the law of the land and slapping down states from prohibiting same sex marriage.
Rubio has said in the past that marriage should be between one man and one woman, often claiming that marriage equality is a matter up to state legislatures. He’s said he doesn’t believe “any case law is settled law.”
But while he has not called for a constitutional amendment, he said during his failed presidential campaign that if he was elected, he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturnObergefell.
Rubio’s position is out of step with young voters. At least 71 percent of millennials support same-sex marriage, according to a Pew Research Center poll from May.