Metro Weekly

Rubio strikes sympathetic tone at anti-LGBT event

But the National LGBTQ Task Force accuses senator of cribbing words from a staffer to justify his inaction

Photo: Marco Rubio. Credit: Gage Skidmore/flickr.
Photo: Marco Rubio. Credit: Gage Skidmore/flickr.

“To love our neighbors we must recognize that many have experience sometimes severe condemnation and judgment from some Christians. They have heard some say that the reason God will bring condemnation on America is because of them — as if somehow God was willing to put up with adultery and gluttony and greed and pride, but now this is the last straw.”

–Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, speaking at the “Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project,” a gathering of pastors and religious leaders. Rubio became a target for LGBT activists, their religious allies and left-leaning organizations for agreeing to address the conference, which included several figures infamous for their anti-LGBT rhetoric and opposition to equality measures.

Rubio’s remarks on Friday, which marked the two-month anniversary of the mass shooting of the LGBT nightclub Pulse, struck a softer, more sympathetic tone when speaking about the LGBT community, reports The New York Times. This was in stark contrast to his failed presidential campaign, in which Rubio played up his opposition to LGBT rights, specifically marriage equality, to prove his conservative bona fides.

Rubio told attendees at the event that their faith is being harmed by the perception that many Christians are anti-gay. Instead, Rubio said, Christians should resist judging LGBT people.

Rubio reiterated his continuing belief that marriage rights should not be extended to same-sex couples. But he also asked the religious leaders in attendance at the conference to recognize that American history “has been marred by discrimination against and rejection of gays and lesbians.” He specifically cited discriminatory hiring practices that excluded gays from working for the federal government, police raids of gay bars, and the use of anti-gay slurs as illustrations of the animus LGBT faced.

But the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund expressed skepticism of Rubio’s remarks, and called the senator out for using a quote from Task Force staffer Victoria Kirby York to “shroud his inaction on LGBTQ rights and the proliferation of guns.”

The quote Kirby York had used was: “For our community, far too many have never seen a sight like this. Finding a place where they can be prayed over for who they are, that place for many just exists in their dreams.” She said the words at a vigil following the Pulse shooting that sought to engage conservative Christians in understanding the effects of their anti-LGBT rhetoric and activism.

“While it’s always flattering to be quoted by a United States Senator, I’m shocked that Senator Rubio used my words in Orlando exactly two months after the Pulse night club tragedy, alongside people whose actions have caused considerable harm to the people whose lives were lost and many others still living with injuries and trauma,” Kirby York said in a statement.

“If his words represent a change of heart that is translated into actions that support LGBTQ freedom, justice and equality, then we wholeheartedly welcome it and the actions that must therefore follow,” she added. “However, his record and lack of action thus far shows a politician who opposes marriage equality for me and my wife, rejects meaningful legislation to help create a nation free from gun violence, and voted against the Equality Act, comprehensive federal legislation that would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. He may talk about loving thy neighbor, but when it comes to showing moral and political courage with that love, he has been nowhere to be found.”

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