Sen. Marco Rubio criticized the legalization of same-sex marriage in Florida in a series of interviews Wednesday, stating that he does not believe same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.
“I do not believe that there is a U.S. Constitutional right to same-sex marriage,” the Florida Republican told reporters, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “Now as I’ve said before, states have a right to change their laws. I don’t believe it’s unconstitutional. I just don’t believe there’s a constitutional right to it.
“States have always defined marriage in the laws and if a state wants to change its marriage laws, it should do so by petitioning their elected representatives in the legislature, and in the case of Florida, by placing on the ballot a question on the issue,” Rubio stated. “I’m against it. I don’t agree with it. But we’re in a democracy and people can debate those issues and ultimately it will be decided through that process.”
In a separate interview with Politico, Rubio said supporters of same-sex marriage should have taken their cause to the ballot box rather than the courts. “If they wanted to change that law, they should have gone to the legislature or back to the Constitution and try to change it,” Rubio said. “I don’t agree we should be trying to make those changes through the courts.”
Nevertheless, in another interview on the topic, this time with CNN, Rubio said that should same-sex marriage be legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court, the law must be abided by and respected. “I wouldn’t agree with their ruling, but that would be the law of the land that we would have to follow until it’s somehow reversed — either by a future Supreme Court, or a U.S. constitutional amendment, which I don’t think is realistic or foreseeable,” he said.
Rubio’s string of remarks come as Florida became the 36th state, plus D.C., to permit same-sex marriage following the expiration of a stay of a federal district court’s ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. With the arrival of marriage equality to Florida, approximately 70 percent of the nation’s population lives in a marriage-equality state.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Rubio believes Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi should continue her appeal of the case to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has not yet ruled in the case.
Rubio’s statements also come as a potential rival for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, has softened his tone on marriage equality. “We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law,” Bush said in a statement. “I hope that we can show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue — including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty.”
Last summer during a speech at Catholic University, Rubio accused same-sex marriage supporters of intolerance. “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.”
On Jan. 9, the Supreme Court will meet behind closed doors to consider taking up challenges to same-sex marriage bans in five states: Louisiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!