By Bob Allen
U.S. senator and potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio criticized what he termed growing intolerance for supporters of traditional marriage at a July 23 conference co-sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
Rubio (R-Fla.) reminded an audience at The Catholic University of America in Washington that when it comes to debate about same-sex marriage, tolerance is a two-way street.
“However, today there is a growing intolerance on this issue, intolerance toward those who continue to support traditional marriage,” Rubio told the gathering co-sponsored by the SBC’s public-policy agency and Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies.
“We’ve seen the push to remove the CEO of Mozilla, because in 2008 he made a small donation to support Proposition 8 in California, which would have upheld the traditional definition of marriage,” Rubio said.
“We’ve seen the CEO of Starbucks tell a shareholder who supports traditional marriage that he should sell his shares and invest in some other company,” he continued. “We’ve seen Chick-fil-A attacked and boycotted due to its CEO giving an honest answer to a question regarding his deeply held religious beliefs.”
“And I promise you that even before this speech is over, I’ll be attacked as a hater or a bigot or someone who’s anti-gay,” he said. “This intolerance in the name of tolerance is hypocrisy. Supporting the definition of marriage as one man and one woman is not anti-gay. It is pro-traditional marriage.”
Rubio’s speech, covering a wide-range of issues and posted on YouTube, was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research. The panel featured ERLC President Russell Moore, Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, Richard Reeves from the Brookings Institution, Brad Wilcox of the National Marriage Project and Sister Ann Patrick Conrad, associate professor of social work at Catholic University.
According to media reports, Moore echoed Rubio’s thoughts on intolerance by the left.
“I think the myth of somehow those who are concerned about these issues from a more conservative standpoint are simply going to evaporate — I think that that is actually fueling some of the things that Sen. Rubio talked about right now, when he did talk about this growing intolerance of those who would define marriage as a conjugal union of a man and a woman,” Moore said.
Barrett Duke, vice president of the ERLC, said in a Catholic University press release he was pleased with the partnership with the IRD.
“I’m especially pleased that Sen. Rubio would pick this venue to describe a way forward for a more perfect union, and I want to especially thank all of the panelists who did a fantastic job of helping us unpack and understand the meaning of what Sen. Rubio had to share with us in such a thoughtful and thought-provoking way,” Duke said.
Rubio’s talk, titled “Strong Values for a Strong America,” touched on other issues including the rise of single-parent households, education, the economy, abortion and immigration.
“If support for traditional marriage is bigotry,” Rubio said, “then Barack Obama was a bigot until just before the 2012 election.”