WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, the top elected Republican in Florida, says state Attorney General Pam Bondi should appeal a court decision that paved the way for the same-sex marriages that began in the state this week.
In any event, Rubio said he thinks the U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide the issue, a growing possibility. States are rapidly allowing gay marriage while a federal court in Ohio recently upheld a ban. On Friday, the high court could begin deliberations on whether to decide the issue for the country.
"I do not believe that there is a U.S. Constitutional right to same-sex marriage," Rubio said in an interview with Florida reporters on Wednesday afternoon. "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," he continued. "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."
Rubio's comments come as Bondi, who had pursued challenges to same-sex marriages, has been vague about what she will do now. Her office is reviewing options. Rubio's comments also come as some other Florida Republicans, while not accepting gay marriage, have effectively said the courts have decided and it's time to move on.
Rubio, who is considering a run for president, nonetheless has tried to find a softer way to talk about gay marriage. In his new book, out next week, he writes:
"Thousands of years of human history have taught us that the ideal setting for children to grow up in is with a mother and a father committed to each other, living together and sharing the responsibility of raising their children. It is for this reason and this reason alone that I continue to believe marriage should be defined as one man and one woman. It is neither my place nor my intention to dictate to anyone who they are allowed to love or live with."
While acknowledging changing public opinion, he added: "The trend that I will not accept, however, is the growing attitude that belief in traditional marriage equates to bigotry and hatred. Just as California has a right to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, Florida has a right to define it as one man and one woman."
Same-sex marriage is now allowed in 36 states plus the District of Columbia.