On Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) appeared at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. to deliver a speech aimed at bolstering his reputation among social conservatives. The speech, which he titled ‘Strong Values for a Strong America,’ was highlighted by Rubio’s strong defense of both ‘traditional marriage’ and a pro-life agenda. More than anything, this address by Rubio was a reminder that the Florida Senator intends on running for the White House in 2016. It was also an effort to make right-wingers forget that he had previously pushed for immigration reform.
Rubio basically checked certain boxes that he thinks are needed to for him to make headway with the ‘base’ ahead of the GOP primary. When discussing same-sex marriage, and the right’s continued opposition to it, Rubio said the following.
The first of these is same-sex marriage. At the outset, it is important to openly acknowledge that our history is marred by discrimination against gays and lesbians. This is shameful and must be condemned. Supporters of same-sex marriage argue that laws banning same-sex marriage are vestiges of this discrimination. I respect their arguments, but there is another side to this debate.
Societies around the world have defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman for thousands of years. And because traditional marriage has an extraordinary record of success at raising children into strong and successful adults, in our country, states have long elevated this institution in our laws. In weighing both arguments, that is the definition that I personally support.
Those who support same-sex marriage have a right to lobby their state legislature to change their state laws. But Americans, including me, who support keeping the traditional definition of marriage, also have a right to work to keep the traditional definition of marriage in our laws without seeing that overturned by a judge or a court, and without being targeted with hate speech.
Our nation has demonstrated an incredible capacity to work through issues such as this. And I believe it will again. Doing so will require those of us who support traditional marriage to respect the views of those who support same-sex marriage. But it will also require those who support same-sex marriage to respect the views of those who support traditional marriage. For tolerance is a two-way street, and intolerance in the name of tolerance is hypocrisy.
Did you catch that? Not only did Rubio make the case that marriage should only be defined as being between a man and a woman, he also made sure to frame conservatives as victims in the debate. Basically, those who are pushing for tolerance when it comes to respecting and acknowledging the rights of gays and lesbians are the ones being intolerant. Essentially, social conservatives should not have to deal with others calling out their bigotry, because being intolerant of those who are intolerant is apparently hypocrisy. Those who have been discriminated against in the past must always be tolerant of the intolerant. Why? Because they are supposed to preach tolerance. Or something like that.
In a discussion of this speech on NOW with Alex Wagner Wednesday afternoon, former RNC chairman Michael Steele defended Rubio’s speech as well as his position that social conservatives are victims in the debate over same-sex marriage. Hilariously, Steele took the stance that there is nothing more forward and progressive thinking than sticking to your values, especially in the face of changing public opinion, as has been the case with gay marriage. Since the majority of Americans now support gay marriage, conservatives are now the ones who are in the minority and pushing a more progressive agenda.
Below is video of Steele’s remarks, courtesy of MSNBC:
Taking Steele’s argument to its logical conclusion, essentially those who feel that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote are the ones who are extremely progressive with their thinking. Why? Because while it was the law of the land at one point, public opinion changed over time and eventually women were provided access to the franchise. However, there are still some who feel women should be second-class citizens. Or that blacks or other minorities shouldn’t have equal rights. In Steele’s mind, those are the real progressives.
As for Rubio, due to the nuttiness of today’s Republican Party, this was something he had to do. He had to prove to far-right that he is one of them. To do so, he had to point out he is against abortion and for ‘family values.’ Rubio also had to give voice to Republican victimology and the notion that conservatives just “want our country back!” There was not one mention of immigration in his speech. Instead, it was all about hating gays, abortion and playing the victim. Expect Rubio to continue along this path as we head into primary season.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).