U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Florida, is the headline speaker at a religious conference August 12 (tomorrow), in Orlando, Florida — the two-month anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub massacre — and LGBT activists are planning to protest.
Equality Florida is rallying activists to protest the event as part of their Rally Against Hate #ForThe49. On the Equality Florida Action page, activists say, “Just down the street from Pulse Nightclub, Rubio plans to join some of the country’s most vehemently anti-LGBT activists on 8/11 and 8/12. … Together we will make it absolutely clear that hatred and bigotry will no longer go unchallenged.”
The conference, for pastors and their spouses, is called Rediscovering God in America. It’s being put together by The Florida Renewal Project and co-organized by The Liberty Counsel — the evangelical, anti-LGBT law firm that represented Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis. Its leader, Matt Staver, has guided right-wing lawmakers in drafting legislation in 20 or more states, according to CBS.
This isn’t the first time Rubio’s had LGBT activists protesting him. According to the Orlando Sentinel, just last month there was a sit-in at the senator’s office. “This is just a group of concerned citizens in Orlando who came together to say that a month has gone by now, and we’ve seen nothing but more violence and discrimination,” said Ida Eskamani, spokeswoman for Equality Florida.
Following the mass shooting in Orlando, Rubio — along with President Obama — spoke that Orlando needed a call for unity and paid his respects to the 49 victims. Now, as Pink News writes: “Rubio [is] back to his old ways.”
It seems Rubio is extremely hypocritical in his politics. He actively rallied against LBGT rights during his short run in the presidential race. And at one point, as Pink News reported earlier this year, he “doubled his efforts to overturn equal marriage.”
In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, Rubio says, “Leave it to the media and liberal activists to label a gathering of faith leaders as an anti-LGBT event. I have always supported a traditional definition of marriage … those of us who support traditional marriage also have a right to oppose [marriage equality].”
How can someone be against queer rights, actively pushing oppressive legislation that further marginalizes queer and transgender folks — especially those of color — and then pay their respects for the victims of Pulse? Rubio is complicit in systemically killing those victims by pushing this rhetoric and fostering this climate! The truth is: you can’t.
It seems Rubio doesn’t realize the impact that this conference has on the local community. He spins a very valid response to the influx of anti-LGBT people, and makes it seem as if the queer community of Orlando is overreacting. But when our bodies are under attack by the church and by the state, when they’re actively killing us, how are we supposed to react? You don’t get to help kill queer and transgender folks one day and then perform your ally theater the next. This speaks volumes about the lip service that politicians give marginalized communities while they continue to have blood on their hands.