“States have always regulated marriage in America, and state legislatures have a right, a constitutional right to change those regulations. But that right to define and regulate marriage is a two-way street,” Rubio said at a Catholic University of America (CUA) symposium on “Strong Values for a Strong America.”
“Just as states have a right to redefine marriage to include same-sex marriage, they also have a right to continue to define it as between one man and one woman,” he said.
Rubio criticized unelected judges who have been redefining marriage even in states where the people have decided that it should exclusively remain a union of one man and one woman.
“All across this country, we have judges overturning state laws and defining marriage and redefining marriage from the bench,” Rubio said.
Last week, a local judge in Rubio’s home state of Florida ruled that same-sex couples in the Florida Keys could get married, contrary to a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.
“Those who support same-sex marriage have a right to lobby their state legislatures to change their state laws. But Americans, like myself, 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 them overturned by a judge.”
“Our nation has in the past demonstrated a tremendous capacity to work through issues like this. And I believe it will do it again. But doing so will require those of us who support traditional marriage to respect those who support same- sex marriage. But it will also require those who support same-sex marriage to respect those of us who support traditional marriage, because tolerance is also a two-way street.”
"However, today there is a growing intolerance on this issue. Intolerance towards those who continue to support traditional marriage," Rubio said.
The senator acknowledged that America’s history “is marred by discrimination against gays and lesbians.”
“Many cities carried out law enforcement efforts targeting gay Americans,” he said. “Fortunately, we have come a long way since then. But . . .supporters of same-sex marriage argue that laws banning same-sex marriage are discrimination.”
“I respect their arguments,” Rubio said. “And I would concede that they pose a legitimate question for lawmakers and for society.”
But "thousands of years of human history have shown that the ideal setting for children to grow up is with a mother and a father committed to one another, living together, and sharing the responsibility of raising their children,” the senator said.
“That is the definition of marriage that I personally support - not because I seek to discriminate against people who love someone of the same sex, but because I believe that the union of one man and one woman is a special relationship that has proven to be of great benefit to our society, our nation, and our people, and therefore deserves to be elevated in our laws.”
Rubio mentioned the push earlier this year for Mozilla co-founder Brandon Eich to resign as CEO because of a $1,000 donation he made in 2008 in support of California’s Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriages, as an example of growing intolerance towards supporters of traditional marriage.
Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop, was sued by a same-sex couple after refusing to make them a wedding cake in 2012. Citing his religious beliefs, he offered to make them another type of cake instead. The commission’s order also compels Phillips and his staff to undergo anti-discrimination training and file quarterly “compliance” reports for the next two years.
“I promise you that even before this speech is over, I will be attacked as a hater, a bigot, or someone who is anti-gay,” Rubio said. “This intolerance in the name of tolerance is hypocrisy. . .supporting the definition of marriage as one man and one woman is not anti-gay, it is pro-traditional marriage.”
Support among Americans for legalized same-sex marriage has increased to 55 percent, according to a Gallup poll released in May.