July 23, 2014 at 4:17 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Rubio defends right of states to ban same-sex marriage
Sen. Marco Rubio has defended a state's right to bar same-sex couples from marrying (Blade file photo by Lee Whitman).

Sen. Marco Rubio has defended a state’s right to bar same-sex couples from marrying. (Blade file photo by Lee Whitman)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Wednesday defended his opposition to same-sex nuptials by saying marriage between one man and one woman “deserves to be elevated in our laws.”

Rubio, who’s considered a likely contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, made the remarks in a speech before about 100 people at Catholic University in D.C.

In his remarks, Rubio said states have enshrined the understanding of “traditional marriage” as one man, one woman into law because of its record of success in raising children to become successful adults.

“That is the definition of marriage that I personally support — not because I seek to discriminate against people who love someone of the same sex, but because I believe that the union of one man and one woman is a special relationship that has proven to be of great benefit to our society, our nation and our people, and therefore deserves to be elevated in our laws,” Rubio said.

Fred Sainz, vice president of communications for the Human Rights Campaign, said the remarks from Rubio demonstrate he’s “wrong on this issue and time will tell that he’s on the wrong side of history.”

“An ever growing majority of Americans from all walks of life – from all religious denominations and political ideologies – are increasingly supportive of marriage equality,” Sainz said. “What Senator Rubio describes as intolerance is actually the inexorable march toward equality that has always made our country stronger and richer.”

His remarks on marriage were part of a larger speech on societal values. Rubio also discussed making abortion illegal, the importance of two-parent families and government incentives favoring marriage, such as tax credits for married couples raising children.

The Florida Republican criticized judges who have acted to overturn state marriage bans, including the state judge in his own state who recently ruled in favor of marriage equality in the Florida Keys.

“Those who support same-sex marriage have a right to lobby their state legislatures to change state laws,” Rubio said. “But Americans, like myself, who support keeping the traditional definition of marriage also have a right to work to keep the traditional definition of marriage in our laws without seeing that overturned by a judge.”

Rubio criticized judges for overturning state marriage bans after more than 20 courts have struck them down. Observers expect the U.S. Supreme Court will deliver a final, nationwide ruling on the issue of marriage equality as soon as the middle of next year.

Another Republican in his state, Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.), took a different approach following the court ruling on Tuesday, becoming what is considered to be the fourth sitting U.S. House Republican to support marriage equality, but stating his personal support for marriage between one man and one woman.

Despite his stated opposition to same-sex marriage, Rubio acknowledged “our history is marred by discrimination” against gay people, saying he respects the arguments of supporters of same-sex marriage and their efforts to change the system — as long as it’s through the legislative system and not the courts.

But Rubio insisted tolerance is a “two-way street” and criticized what he said were attacks on opponents of same-sex marriage, such as those against former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, who was removed from his post after criticism for his donations in support of California’s Proposition 8.

“And I promise you that even before this speech is over, I will be attacked as a hater, a bigot or someone who is anti-gay,” Rubio said. “This intolerance in the name of tolerance is hypocrisy.”

Rubio’s position that states should be able to bar same-sex couples from marrying isn’t new. Last year when speaking before the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference, Rubio said his belief that states can deny marriage rights to gay couples “does not make me a bigot.”

Rubio also invoked President Obama’s previous opposition to marriage equality as evidence that opposition to gay nuptials isn’t bigotry.

“Supporting the definition of marriage as one man and one woman is not anti-gay, it is pro-traditional marriage,” Rubio said. “And if support for traditional marriage is bigotry, then Barack Obama was a bigot until just before the 2012 election.”

Marc Solomon, national campaign director for the LGBT group Freedom to Marry, was succinct in his response to calls for tolerance from Rubio as he continues to oppose marriage equality.

“Senator Rubio’s kinder, gentler discrimination isn’t going to cut it,” Solomon said.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • Fred Sainz, vice president of communications for the Human Rights Campaign, said the remarks from Rubio demonstrate he’s “wrong on this issue and time will tell that he’s on the wrong side of history.”
    This response is getting trite and overused. Conservatives like Rubio don’t care if they are on the wrong side of history. They only care about winning at our expense.

    Rubio’s comments purport that somehow heterosexual marriages become irrelevant when opposite sex couples can legally married. The crux of this argument alleges that marriage is only about procreation. If it is then why isn’t a fertility test required to get a marriage license? Why aren’t infertile couples barred from marrying? His argument is specious.

    A heterosexual marriage can only be diminished by the partners in the relationship and their efforts or lack thereof to preserve the marriage. Exogenous factors like who else is able to marry are transparent to that. There are plenty of examples of dead beat hetero parents who care more about themselves than their own biological children and put themselves first. That has nothing to do with gay people.

  • I can prove to him that he's a dick

  • He wants to be president. It will never happen

  • Actually lets think about this… We allowed your family to immigrate to our country…. If you don't like freedom and equal rights, take your ass back to Cuba.

  • He's such a right ring such up jackass.

  • Thanks for this coverage. It is quite an insult to DC’s same-sex married families to have this anti-gay bigotry touted once again by a longstanding anti-LGBT Tea Party hack.
    The Blade might want to also look into Catholic University’s new alliance with the Southern Baptist Convention, a virulent anti-gay religion — and right wing-nut lobbying group.
    According to CUA’s Public Affairs website, “Rubio’s address was co-sponsored by Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies (IPR) and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

    CUA is a “pontifical institution” and that alliance doesn’t seem in keeping with Pope Francis’ kinder, gentler approach to gay people.
    As The New Civil Rights Movement reported of this dubious gathering for Rubio…
    Take his comments today, during a speech he delivered at Catholic University (CUA) this afternoon in Washington, D.C., where he appeared on stage with none other than a panel of extreme anti-gay activists, including, according to Religion News Service, Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America; Richard V. Reeves, a fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution; Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project; and Sister Ann Patrick Conrad, associate professor of social work at CUA.
    Nance’s CWA is as close to an anti-gay hate group as one can get. Wilcox is largely responsible for advancing the hugely-discredited Regnerus anti-gay “parenting” study.
    Maybe John Garvey, President of CUA in NE DC, will at least provide equal time to Hillary Clinton, a Marriage Equality proponent.

  • Marco, Marco. Thank God you didn't aspire to be anything more serious–a Constitutional scholar, say–than a US senator. Oh, that's right: You are talking about running for president in 2016. Please do. It would be fun to watch you laid waste in short order. Meanwhile, maybe you should bone up on the quaint idea in the Constitution. Maybe you've seen it engraved at the top front of the US Supreme Court building. "Equal justice under law," it says. It doesn't say anything about "elevating" one category of marriage above all others. And when will you and your desperate friends in The Party please stop trying to argue that marriage is about raising children. There are an awful lot of infertile hetero couples–to say nothing of the post-menopausal oldsters still having sex and marrying–who can't have chlldren, and even heteros who choose not to have children. How's it feel, anyway, to be so firmly on the wrong side of history? I know it feels great to see you there.

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