Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio has pledged to reverse President Obama’s executive order barring anti-LGBT workplace discrimination among federal contractors, saying faith-based businesses are “being compelled to sin by government in their business conduct.”
Rubio made the remarks during Thanksgiving week in the same interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network in which he said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in favor of same-sex marriage is “not settled law.” The media outlet didn’t publish the portion of the interview in which Rubio talked about Obama’s order until Saturday.
After being questioned about maintaining religious freedom in the United States, which is considered code by conservatives to mean enabling anti-LGBT discrimination, Rubio said “there’s no doubt that we need to be extra vigilant now” about protecting religious liberty.
Much like Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, Rubio said his administration would have a Justice Department “that’s vigilant about ensuring that those who hold traditional values are not being discriminated against.”
“That includes reversing any administrative decisions made by this president that force religious, or religious motivated entities,” Rubio said. “You may not be owned by a church, but you are a religious school, or your mission is to spread the Gospel and adhere to God’s teachings. [I’d] ensure that people in the private sector and the not-for-profit sector are being protected in living out their faith.”
Rubio went on to discuss the Supreme Court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage and abortion rights, saying the next president must appoint justices who understand the U.S Constitution “is not a living and breathing document.”
“It is a document of limitation and it’s supposed to be interpreted and applied based on its original intent,” Rubio said. “And there is no way that you can read that Constitution and deduce from it that there is a constitutional right to an abortion, or a constitutional right to marry someone of the same sex. And what you have is a Supreme Court that wanted to reach a certain policy outcome and so creatively manipulated the Constitution to discover a right that for over two centuries, some of the most brilliant minds and legal history didn’t find.”
When host David Brody raised the issue of executive orders and a strong U.S. attorney general, Rubio said he would reverse the executive orders Obama “has made on things like gender equality in restrooms.”
Rubio invoked the case of Township High School District 211 based in Palatine, Illinois, which recently reached a settlement with the Department of Education to allow a transgender student to use the girls’ locker room consistent with her gender identity.
“You’ve seen some local districts and others been forced to, you know, provide girls access to a boys’ bathroom and so forth,” Rubio said.
But Rubio expanded on his opposition to the federal government’s enforcement of non-discrimination protections against transgender students to include Executive Order 13672, which President Obama signed last year to prohibit anti-LGBT workplace discrimination among companies doing business with the federal government.
The U.S. senator from Florida said the government must not require organizations “motivated by their faith or organized around their faith from having to violate the tenets of their faith, and that includes government contractors.”
“There are many government contractors and small companies who provide services to the government who are faith-based people, and they are, they are being compelled to sin by government in their business conduct,” Rubio said. “That is not something we should be supporting.”
Faith-based advocates, including Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church in California, had called on Obama to include a religious exemption in his executive order. Following pressure from LGBT advocates, Obama omitted such a carve-out in favor of keeping a Bush-era religious exemption in place allowing faith-based businesses to favor co-religionists in hiring practices and still receive federal contracts. Faith-based organizations, such as religious schools or hospitals, are now prohibited from engaging in anti-LGBT discrimination for employment in non-ministerial positions.
Rubio’s pledge to reverse Obama’s pro-LGBT executive orders seems at odds with the recent endorsement he received from GOP philanthropist Paul Singer, who supports LGBT rights and has contributed funds to pro-LGBT initiatives. The Washington Blade has placed a call to a representative for Singer seeking comment on Rubio’s remarks.
The White House declined to comment on Rubio’s pledge to reverse Obama’s LGBT executive orders.