As first reported on Right Wing Watch, Sen. Marco Rubio is slated to speak at an event in Orlando next week that will feature some of the country’s most extreme anti-LGBT activists.
Rubio has denied that the “Rediscovering God in America” event, which will take place exactly two months after the horrific shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub, has anything to do with anti-LGBT activism. In response to criticism last week, the senator attacked “the media and liberal activists” for labeling “a gathering of faith leaders as an anti-LGBT event” when it is “nothing of the sort.” He also called for more courteous dialogue in the debate over marriage equality that is “respectful of the views and the dignity of those on both sides.”
The Florida senator has clearly misrepresented the nature of the event, which is being led by political activists with a clear anti-LGBT agenda.
The Florida event is part of a series of “Rediscovering God in America” events hosted by David Lane, a self-described “a political operative” intent on infusing the U.S. government with his own brand of Christian nationalism. Lane has said that God will punish America for its growing acceptance homosexuality with “car bombs in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa” and potentially the total destruction of America.
At least as of recently, Lane’s American Renewal Project, which organizes these events, functioned as part of the American Family Association, one of the most vehemently anti-LGBT groups on the Religious Right.
The very first Rediscovering God in America event, which took place in Iowa in 2011, was clearly political. At that event, Mike Huckabee called on participants to become “spiritual warriors” to fight marriage equality, and David Barton, who will also be addressing the Florida event, claimed that Jesus Christ opposed the minimum wage.
Barton is also not a pastor but a GOP activist who was a member of the Republican Party platform committee and is a former leader of the Texas Republican Party.
Barton has a lengthy anti-LGBT record, as we’ve reported:
Barton is delighted by the fact that God is preventing researchers from finding a cure or vaccine for HIV/AIDS. According to Barton, HIV/AIDS is a punishment for sin and therefore God will block a potential cure: “God says, ‘Hey you’re going to bear in your body the consequences of this homosexual behavior.’” He argues that HIV/AIDS is a divine “penalty” for gay people’s “shameful sexual acts.” On a similar note, Barton has called homosexuality “absolutely reprehensible and disgusting” and said that marriage equality means we “are going down as a nation.”
Barton “guaranteed” listeners that if they have children going to public schools “they are getting homosexual indoctrination.” He even said that public schools will “force them to be homosexual.” Barton’s gay rights conspiracy theories don’t end there: Before the passage of the 2009 Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, Barton said the law was “designed to single out preachers in the pulpit” and would put pastors in prison if they condemn homosexuality. Of course, that never happened.
The appearance of Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver alongside Rubio at the Orlando event should also put to rest the claim that this is an apolitical event.
Staver has claimed that gay rights advocates are terrorist–like minions of Satan who are paving the way for the destruction of America and a second revolution. When the Boy Scouts of America rescinded its ban on gay members, Staver said that the group would turn into “a playground for pedophiles,” claiming that gay people “entrap” and “groom” children and “force people into a lifestyle of destruction.” Besides pedophilia, Staver has also linked homosexuality to the 2008 financial crisis and violent crime.
Staver, whose clients include anti-gay heroes such as Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, has “praised moves in Russia, India, Malawi and Nigeria to outlaw homosexual relationships or speech in favor of gay rights.”
While Rubio may try to deny that the event is in any way anti-LGBT, even a cursory glance at the rally speakers and principal organizer reveals that the senator’s statement flies in the face of reality.
If Rubio really believed that people should be “respectful of the views and the dignity of those on both sides,” aligning with radical activists who want homosexuality outlawed and smear gay people as pedophiles and Satanists is not a good start.