Metro Weekly

Marco Rubio to address conference of anti-gay activists

List of scheduled speakers includes prominent social conservatives best known for their anti-LGBT views

Marco Rubio, Credit: Gage Skidmore
Marco Rubio – Photo: Gage Skidmore

Sen. Marco Rubio is raising eyebrows among the LGBT community after it was revealed that he plans to address a conference of anti-gay activists in Orlando — on the two-month anniversary of the attack on Pulse nightclub.

Right Wing Watch posted news that Rubio is expected to speak at the “Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project,” which will take place Aug. 11-12 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando. Evangelical activist David Lane started the American Renewal Project to encourage pastors and religious leaders to run for political office in order to influence public policy.

Besides Rubio, who will headline the event, other featured speakers include prominent anti-LGBT activists David Barton, Bill Federer, Ken Graves, Fred Lowery, Bob McEwen and Mat Staver, the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel.

According to Right Wing Watch, some of the beliefs or statements propagated by the speakers run the gamut between simple anti-gay rhetoric and opposition to advances in LGBT rights to bizarre conspiracy theories.

Staver, as head of Liberty Counsel, represented Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis when she was sent to jail for contempt of court after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He has also represented Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who is accused of violating judicial ethics by using his position to order probate judges in the state not to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Barton, a GOP activist, says that God is preventing a cure for HIV/AIDS from being found because the disease is punishment for living a sinful homosexual lifestyle. Graves, a pastor from Maine, has argued that gay people cannot build happy families because they are depressed. Federer, a well-known figure in socially conservative circles, believes that advances in LGBT rights are hastening the Islamist takeover of America.

The Human Rights Campaign has previously criticized Rubio for citing the Pulse nightclub attack as justification for running for re-election to the U.S. Senate. At the time, HRC pointed out that Rubio has a record of opposing LGBT rights and using anti-LGBT rhetoric to appeal to social conservatives while on the campaign trail.

“Marco Rubio is sharing a stage in Orlando with some of the nation’s most odious anti-equality activists, including people who support dangerous and harmful conversion therapy here at home, and are working to export anti-LGBTQ hate abroad, including targeting people for criminal prosecution because of whom they love,” JoDee Winterhof, HRC’s senior vice president of policy and political affairs, said in a statement.

“By cozying up to some of the worst opponents of LGBTQ equality, Marco Rubio is simply confirming the obvious — he is not our ally. Because of anti-equality members of Congress like Marco Rubio, LGBTQ Floridians are forced to live in fear of being discriminated against and risk being fired or denied a job simply for who they are.”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include a response from the Human Rights Campaign.

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