Could Floridians find out too late that they voted for a staunchly anti-gay U.S. Senator?
Florida’s leading GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate, Marco Rubio, doesn’t like to talk about social issues now that he’s the clear front runner for his party’s nomination. In fact, his campaign Web site is silent on key issues important to the LGBT community–nothing on employment non-discrimination, adoption, partnership rights, etc.
But Rubio, a 39 year-old former State House Speaker, has rocketed past Gov. Charlie Crist in polls of likely Republican voters largely on a message of conservative purity.
Florida LGBT activists say Rubio opposes marriage equality and supports the military’s ban on openly gay troops. In fact, his early endorsement by the rabidly anti-gay Family Research Council may indicate a more hard-core social agenda than he’d like like to acknowledge as he heads into a general election contest. ”FRC Action PAC believes that Marco Rubio will be a true advocate for the issues that best uphold and strengthen families. We are proud to support his candidacy,” said FRC’s Tony Perkins, a nationally known anti-gay talking head.
One Florida LGBT activist, who asked not to be named because he works with Tallahassee Republicans, told GayPolitics he believes Rubio and his staff have made a concerted effort to stay silent on LGBT issues. ”But the truth is Rubio’s horrible,” the source added.
Tony Plakas, an openly gay columnist for the Florida Sun-Sentinel, told GayPolitics Rubio may not be talking about LGBT issues because his GOP primary opponent, Crist, doesn’t dare raise the issues himself. ”For Rubio, no position is the best position right now. This is Charlie Crist’s fault,” Plakas said. ”Apparently Charlie’s closet is big enough for Marco Rubio or any other primary challenger.”
But Rubio may also know that going on the record now opposing the LGBT community’s top legislative priorities could alienate moderate voters in the fall, when he will likely face Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek. National GOP strategists are increasingly advising social conservatives to tone down their rhetoric on hot-button social issues in order to gain more support from independents, which now outnumber both registered Democrats and Republicans.
Rubio’s campaign did not respond to phone calls seeking comment on his positions on LGBT issues.