Rubio defends appearance at religious conference critics say is antigay
ORLANDO — Marco Rubio has come under fire from LGBT activists for an upcoming appearance at religious conference held next week in Orlando, two months after the massacre at the Pulse nightclub.
"The event 'Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project' is a who's who [of] some of the country’s most hateful anti-LGBT persons," read a statement from the activist group Faith in America. "It's incredulous a Senator of [the] United States is willing to collude with individuals who are dedicated to oppressing LGBT people. The beliefs shared by this group actively harm LGBT people. This is not the America we want. God will not be found anywhere near that event."
Rubio, in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, said that characterization is false.
"The event I will be speaking at in Orlando is a gathering of local pastors and faith leaders. 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. It is a celebration of faith," he said.
"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.
"I have always supported a traditional definition of marriage. But I recognize that a significant number of Americans hold a different view. Because marriage is regulated by the individual states, they have the right to petition their state legislature to change the law. And those of us who support traditional marriage also have a right to oppose those efforts.
"This debate should be conducted in a way that is respectful of the views and the dignity of those on both sides. 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."