Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) encouraged Christians to “abandon a spirit of judgment” of LBGT Americans, which he said would not violate the teachings of the Bible.
“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,” Rubio said in a recent speech at a conference held by the American Renewal Project, a group of conservative religious leaders focused on influencing public policy, in Orlando, Fla.
“To love our neighbors, we must abandon a spirit of judgment. Do not judge or you will be judged. For in the same way you judge others you will be judged and with a measure you use it will be used to measure you. And we should remember not to ignore the plank in our own eye,” he added.
“I want to be clear with you,” the former GOP presidential candidate continued. “Abandoning judgment and loving our LGBT neighbors is not a betrayal of what the Bible teaches, it is a fulfillment of it.”
To support his position, Rubio said Jesus has showed Christians how to abandon judgment.
“Jesus showed us that we do not have to endorse what people do in order to accept them for who they are – children of a loving and a merciful God,” he said.
“When he came upon a woman accused of adultery, something that at the time that was punishable by death, he stepped forward and confronted the cultural norms of that time and saved her life, because, while he may not have agreed with what she was doing, he saw her value as his child. For after all, he was God made man.”
Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.), who is running for Rubio’s Senate seat, had called on Rubio to withdraw from the American Renewal Project event and “apologize to the LGBT community.”
“Throughout the week, LGBT advocates, community leaders, and Floridians throughout our state have done the same, but Marco Rubio refuses to listen,” Murphy said on Aug. 12. “Today marks the two-month anniversary of the Pulse tragedy, and this anti-LGBT event is taking place just miles from where it occurred.”
“For Florida’s senator to stand alongside these homophobic leaders and his bigoted candidate for president is a disgrace,” he added. “Marco Rubio should do the right thing for Florida’s LGBT community for once in his career and not attend this hateful event.”
The Human Rights Campaign echoed Murphy’s criticism.
“Unfortunately, Marco Rubio has a long, documented history of opposing LGBTQ equality. Speaking out of both sides of his mouth, Rubio suggested he believes employment discrimination against LGBTQ people is wrong, but yet he has consistently opposed even modest steps to provide non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC senior vice president for policy and political affairs.
“On a day when he should be honoring the victims of the horrific massacre in Orlando and advocating for commonsense gun safety measures, Marco Rubio is shamefully courting the votes of anti-LGBTQ activists and showcasing his opposition to the fundamental civil rights of LGBTQ people,” Winterhof added.
During the event, Rubio emphasized that conservatives still have “the right” to oppose same-sex marriage. He lamented those that define traditional marriage support as “hate speech.”
“This intolerance in the name of tolerance is hypocrisy,” Rubio said.
Rubio reminded the faith leaders in the audience that some LGBT Americans desire to “come to Christ” but fear rejection.
“I know what some of you are thinking – that even if you speak of respect and dignity for all, if you do not accept a new definition of marriage, some are still going to try to shame you and silence you. They’re still going to call you a bigot and a hater. Yes, probably some will,” he said.
“And yet we must still love our neighbor because these voices do not speak for the entire LGBT community – because like anyone else, many in that community deeply desire to come to Christ, but they do not because they fear they will be shunned and rejected by some,” he added.
Rubio mentioned the terrorist attack at Pulse, an LBGT nightclub in Orlando, in which 49 people were killed. He referred to a prayer vigil that took place two days after the attack at which hundreds of worshippers and ministers representing various congregations gathered.
“During that service, a local leader in the LGBT community addressed the crowd, and here’s what she said in part: ‘For our community, far too many have never seen a sight like this. Finding a place where they can be prayed over for who they are, that place for many just exists in their dreams,’” he said.
Rubio said many LBGT Americans had “never seen” hundreds of Christians praying for them.
“That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen; they’d just never seen it. That for many finding a place where they can be prayed over for who they are exists only in their dreams,” he said. “After speaking to various people who attended that service, I learned that some of those in attendance hadn’t been inside a church in years. And for others it was literally their first experience with Christianity ever.”
Rubio said some of the attendees at the vigil previously believed “Christianity had no place for them” based on what they “heard in the press.”
“If any of us, myself included, in any way, have ever made anyone feel that Christianity wants nothing to do with them, then I believe deeply that we have failed deeply to represent our Lord Jesus Christ who time and again went out of his way to reach out to the marginalized and to the forgotten of his time,” he said.