In an effort to quell some of the press he's gotten for speaking at what activists called an "anti-LGBT" religious conference, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio gave a strange speech to evangelical leaders that called on them not to judge LGBT people but also stated that traditional marriage should be "elevated and set apart in our laws."
Rubio and Republican nominee Donald Trump received flak from the local LGBT community for attending the "Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project" conference with about 700 pastors in Orlando alongside several speakers with anti-gay views. The event happened on the two-month anniversary of the mass shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse that killed 49 people.
In his remarks, which you can watch here
, Rubio says:
"When it comes to our bothers and our sisters, our fellow Americans, our neighbors and the LGBT community we should recognize that our nation, while the greatest nation in the history of mankind, is one whose history has been marred by discrimination against, and the rejection of, gays and lesbians.
For example, not long ago the federal government not only banned the hiring of gay employees, it required private contractors to identify them and fire them. We had laws that prohibited gays and lesbians from being served in bars and restaurants, and many of our cities carried out law enforcement efforts targeting the community. There was a time not long ago where it was still acceptable and common in the broader society to use slurs.
To love our neighbors in the LGBT community, we should recognize that even as we stand firm in the belief that marriage is the union between one man and one woman, there are those in that community and in same-sex relationships whose love for one another is real, and who feel angry and humiliated that the law did not recognize their relationship as a marriage.
To love our neighbors, we must recognize that many have experienced 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. To love our neighbors, we must abandon a spirit of judgment. Do not judge or you will be judged."
But in the same speech, Rubio says he "continues to support the traditional definition of marriage" because he believes "the union of one man and woman is a special relationship with an extraordinary record of success at raising children into strong and successful people." He says:
"I believe, as many of you do, that this relationship deserves to be elevated and set apart in our laws. I acknowledge that those who have a different view have a right to their views, but Americans like myself who support keeping the traditional definition of marriage also have a right to ours."
In short, the whole speech could be summarized as Rubio telling hundreds of pastors they had to be nicer to LGBT people, but also that heterosexual marriage deserves to be on a higher level than other marriages, which sounds a lot like the discrimination he was preaching against.