Metro Weekly

Rubio defends decision to speak at anti-gay conference

Rubio blames media for wrongly casting event as anti-gay, saying "It is a celebration of faith"

Marco Rubio - Photo: Gage Skidmore

Marco Rubio – Photo: Gage Skidmore

“Leave it to the media and liberal activists to label a gathering of faith leaders as an anti-LGBT event. It is nothing of the sort.”

–U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), responding to reports that he will address a conference of socially conservative activists, including many who are public about their anti-LGBT views.

Rubio is scheduled to headline the “Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project,” a two-day conference Aug. 11-12 at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando. Friday, Aug. 12 will mark the two-month anniversary of the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.

After news of Rubio speaking at the conference broke, many LGBT organizations criticized the senator for attending the event, and used the opportunity to point out that Rubio has held anti-LGBT views throughout his political career. But Rubio defended the conference, telling the Tampa Bay Times that the gathering of pastors is a “celebration of faith.”

“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,” he said.

Rubio also defended his continued opposition to marriage equality, saying he supports a “traditional” view but acknowledges that other people feel differently. He said that both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage have the right to petition their state legislature to change the law to reflect their views on marriage.

“This debate should be conducted in a way that is respectful of the views and the dignity of those on both sides,” said Rubio. “That is the way I have expressed myself each time I have been asked to opine on this issue. And that is how I intend to continue to do so.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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