Rubio beats a retreat at CPAC on traditional marriage

I like Marco Rubio. I really do. But did you see his remarks at CPAC today? If not, you can watch above. There was a brief moment that may have gone unnoticed by many viewers and by those in attendance. It was a subtle turn of phrase that I believe indicates a pretty momentous shift on the issue of marriage. Here’s the sentence:

Just because I believe that states should have the right to define marriage in the traditional way does not make me a bigot. [at 4:40 above]

Did you see it? At first blush it sounds like a pro-traditional marriage statement. And at one level it is. I’m certain Rubio believes in traditional marriage. But at the level of public policy, he is beating a retreat. This statement implies that marriage is not a matter for the federal government to be involved in, but a matter for the states. This is no different than the libertarian approach on marriage. It allows him to be personally opposed to same-sex marriage while doing nothing to prevent it at the federal level. In essence, he is positioning himself against the 2012 GOP platform on the issue of marriage.

What does this mean? I think it means that 2012 was the last time the GOP will ever run a presidential candidate who opposes gay marriage at the level of public policy. Those days are behind us. Rubio’s remarks only confirm that.


  • Chris Roberts

    “It allows him to be personally opposed to same-sex marriage while doing nothing to prevent it at the federal level.”

    It actually goes farther than that. He does not say he wants states to define marriage the traditional way; he does not say he believes marriage is between one man and one woman; he says he believes states should be able to decide their own policy on the issue, whatever that policy may be. Perhaps he speaks more directly later in the speech, I didn’t see the whole thing, but it was hardly a statement of even a personal view of traditional marriage.

  • Lynn Burgess

    Do you suppose we will just have to resort to changing our nation by winning souls to Christ instead of hoping to save our culture via politics ???

    • Mark Driver

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      Prayers & Blessings to all.

  • Barry Deutsch

    I think it’s too early. What a politician says now will be the same as what he’s saying once he’s in the heat of a primary campaign and desperately needs your vote.

    Even if Rubio would feel safer taking a “leave it to the states” position on same sex marriage, that doesn’t mean he WILL take that position in the long run; if the base feels strongly enough about it, they can force him and the other viable candidates to strongly commit to a stronger anti-SSM stance during the primaries.

    The real problem is, if not enough of the base is with you on thinking that the federal government should be taking a strong anti-SSM stance, then it’s hard to see where you go from there.

    • Barry Deutsch

      Aaargh. I accidentally wrote the opposite of what I meant. I should have said, “What a politician says now will NOT be the same as what he’s saying once he’s in the heat of a primary campaign.”

  • James Bradshaw

    What would you like Rubio to say, exactly?

    Should he insist that the federal government has the responsibility to override the laws of those states that have democratically chosen to permit gay marriage (and several recently have done just that)? How is this in any way a “conservative” position?

    It’s funny: when gay marriage was losing at the polls, all we heard is “let the people vote”! Now that they have, we’re hearing that this is a matter not for the polls but for the brass knuckles of religious authority using the power of the federal government.

    Look: I have been partnered to the same person for over two years (and monogamously at that). Explain to me providing a *civil* marriage license to us negatively impacts heterosexual marriage (or anything else) in some tangible fashion. This is not “anti-family”. Both of us happen to be very close to both of our parents and extended families. We’ve both been gay since as early as we could remember, and I don’t expect that to change (nor do we have an interest in even trying). We have formed a bond that has provided stability, support and joy to both of us. If we are fortunate enough for this to be an enduring relationship, we will hopefully have each other to rely on in our later years as our health fails instead of the government. This is acknowledging reality as it is and making the best of it. I don’t understand why you’re fighting this tooth and nail.

  • buddyglass

    “This is no different than the libertarian approach on marriage.”

    Or, perhaps, the constitutional approach. So many people are good federalists until it comes to same-sex marriage or drugs. Then it’s bring-in-the-feds.

  • James Stanton

    It’s the libertarian wing of the Republican party that is ascendant and will have the most appeal for the coveted younger generation of voters. Rand Paul represents this group as does Paul Ryan, a devout worshipper of Ayn Rand, to some extent. Ryan and Rubio, however, will turn off many libertarian voters who despise their neoconservative foreign policy views.

    Put enough pressure on Rubio and he’ll quickly disavow this statement Denny takes issue with. But now you see a glimpse of the real Rubio. 2016 will be interesting.

  • Tim G

    Great catch. This is the new position that the new GOP leaders are staking out and will thus continue to push. Promote it as a states rights issue and thus keep it out of the national picture. They have calculated this as the only path to victory. Social issues will move to the back shelf.

  • Andy Moffat

    Jame’s Bradshaw’s question is an important one. Is there anyone that will answer him? I’m not sure I have a cogent response? Denny?

  • Mark Bahr

    I consider marriage to be between one man and one woman. I will not recognize, as a pastor, a same sex marriage. Nor will I recognize other marriages which God does not recognize (see Jesus on divorce and remarriage).

    On Rubio’s language, we are a society governed not by men but by law. Elected folks are just stewards of that law; they are not the law. The supreme law of the land, our king so to speak, is the constitution. That law includes the 10th amendment. Those things which have not been delegated to the federal government by the states and the people is reserved for the states and the people (yes, in our system, power is delegated to Washington, not devolved from it). The law of the land stipulates that this IS a state issue. The only way to change that is to amend that law–a constitutional amendment. According to the amendment process outlined in the US Constitution, the president (who is only head of one branch of government) has no say in it. An amendment is proposed via one of two ways: a 2/3 majority of both houses at which point is goes to the states for ratification or by means of a convention caused by the application of 2/3 of the states. Either way, an amendment needs to be ratified by 3/4 of the states.

    I’m all for a constitutional amendment, but I’m not for any other form of federalization of the issue. One might say the amendment process is too kludgy, and he would be right; it is. However, it’s intentionally so. This is how our liberty is protected. A government that is not accountable to the rule of law is a threat to our God given liberty. If one wants the rule of expediency and not the rule of law, I suggest moving across the pond.

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