Two months after a mass shooting killed 49 at the gay nightclub Pulse, protesters are planning a rally
against U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio during his speech at a religious conference in Orlando that activists say is anti-LGBT.
Rubio is speaking at the "Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project
" conference at the Hyatt Regency Orlando on International Drive, which goes from Aug. 11 to Aug. 12. The protest in front of the event has been organized by Equality Florida, according to a Facebook event.
On Monday, Equality Florida reported the event had been moved
to the Orange County Convention Center.
The conference includes appearances by several people who hold anti-gay views, including Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver, whose group is best known for representing a Kentucky clerk who refused to marry same-sex couples, and David Lane, whose listed as an extremist anti-LGBT organizer in the evangelical community according to the Southern Poverty Law Center
"Senator Marco Rubio continues to insult the lives of 49 people killed in the worst hate crime against LGBT people in American history," the event page says. "How disgraceful that Sen. Rubio doesn't even have the political courage to say no to events like this in the wake of the Pulse tragedy, and to do so in Orlando is beyond the pale of human decency."
In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times
, Rubio defended his appearance, saying the "media and liberal activists" had labeled it an anti-LGBT event, but it's actually 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," Rubio says, according to the Times.
"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."