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US Senator Marco Rubio has become Florida’s leading opponent of a federal bill that would protect the right to same-sex marriage. LGBTQ+ married couples, community leaders and political allies say the law is needed in case the US Supreme Court overturns its ruling that the ability of gay and lesbian couples to marry is constitutionally protected.

The day after the four South Florida Republicans in the U.S. House voted in favor of respecting marriage legislation, which passed the House 267-157, the U.S. Republican Senator said to CNN that dealing with the matter would be “a stupid waste of time.”

A few days later, he doubled down on that view. “I will focus on the real issues. I will not concentrate on the agenda which [is] dictated by a group of wealthy elite liberals and a group of Marxist misfits who, unfortunately, today control the agenda of the modern Democratic Party,” Rubio said. said in a video posted on social media. »

Many LGBTQ Floridians, including Republicans, feel differently.

“Marriage equality is something that has been very well accepted in this country, and is very well accepted within the Republican Party,” said Charles LoPiccolo, a longtime Republican precinct committee member in Broward. and a member of the LGBT Log Cabin Republicans, speaking on behalf of himself. , not organizations.

Congress should pass the respect for marriage bill and Rubio should “of course” vote for it, he said. Passing the measure “would put an end to any doubt that this is an established law across the country”.

The legality of same-sex marriage seemed established after the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 that the right of same-sex couples to marry was constitutionally protected.

But in June, judges overturned Roe v. Wade, who since 1973 said that there was a constitutional right to abortion.

In a concurring opinion issued with the ruling reversing Roe, Judge Clarence Thomas set out a rationale suggesting other rulings for the court to overturn. The same reasoning the Supreme Court used to declare there was no right to an abortion, he said, should be used to overturn the same-sex marriage ruling, along with other cases establishing the right to access contraception and to engage in consensual same-sex relationships. .

The majority opinion by reversing Roe included a statement that the ruling only applied to abortion. But that hasn’t allayed concerns among LGBTQ+ people and their allies about a possible future threat to marriage rights.

Gallup reported in June that its 2022 Values ​​and Beliefs poll showed 71% of Americans believe same-sex marriages should be legally recognized as valid. Opponents feel strongly. The conservative Heritage Foundation’s FAQ on the issue described the bill as “a free shot for the millions of Americans who believe in male-female marriage.”

Based on the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, the Democratic Caucus said 9% of Florida‘s population and 9.1% of South Florida’s population are LGBTQ+.

The House of Representatives passed the Respect for Marriage Act on July 19.

The proposed law would repeal the old “defense of marriage” law, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. It’s still on the books, although it hasn’t been operational since the 2015 Obergefell ruling.

The Respect for Marriage Act also requires recognition of legally performed same-sex marriages and adds legal protections for interracial marriages. In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia that laws prohibiting interracial marriage violated the Constitution.

“The bill is an acknowledgment that some Supreme Court justices, following the abortion ruling, are prepared to override other privacy rights,” said Florida LGBTQ+ President Stephen Gaskill. Democratic Caucus. “Chaos the [abortion] that the decision brought to reproductive rights is nothing compared to what the overthrow of Obergefell will do; it will tear families apart and eliminate the benefits and other financial gains that are part and parcel of a prenup.

National Republicans LGBT Log Cabin said the legislation would “strengthen civil rights, enshrine marriage equality in federal law, and properly reflect the vast majority of Americans, including Republicans, who support same-sex marriage.”

All House Democrats supported him. The same was true for 47 Republican members of the House, or about a quarter of the party’s representatives, of whom 157 voted no.

A larger share of Florida Congressional Republicans — six out of 16 — voted “yes.” Supporters included Republican U.S. Representatives from South Florida Mario Diaz-Balart, Carlos Gimenez, Brian Mast and Maria Salazar.

“The Respect for Marriage Act upholds already existing law requiring states to recognize marriages from other states. I have always been an ally to the LGBTQ community and will remain so,” Salazar said in a statement this week.

Diaz-Balart said in a statement that her vote reflected a philosophical view. “The concept that all states respect each other’s decisions on marriage laws is deeply rooted in American case law and tradition and coincides with my position on interstate reciprocity for concealed carry permits.”

Gaskill said Diaz-Balart, Gimenez, Mast and Salazar ‘know they have LGBTQ+ voters. And they all have LGBTQ+ friends and family members. »

Charles Moran, National President of Log Cabin Republicans, said via email that “our four GOP lawmakers from Southeast Florida voting in favor of the bill show their connection to the broader LGBT community and its importance. into the fabric and culture of the community. ”

Florida’s other “yes” votes came from U.S. Representatives Kat Cammack, R-Gainesville and Mike Waltz, R-St Augustine Beach.

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, voted against the legislation, which he tweeted is “incorrectly called the ‘Respect for Marriage’ Act.”

Gaetz said Democrats pushed the legislation “into a fit of hysteria triggered by a sentence in a concurring opinion by Judge Thomas,” adding that the Obergefell decision was not in jeopardy. “Gay marriage doesn’t offend me as much as offending federalism through this legislation.”

The day after the House vote, CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju asked Florida’s senior senator about it. “Marco Rubio told me he was NO to House’s same-sex marriage bill, calling it a ‘dumb waste of time,'” Raju wrote on Twitter.

On July 24, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who is gay and has a husband, criticized Rubio’s position on CNN’s “State of the Union” show.

“Our marriage deserves to be treated the same and I don’t know why that would be difficult for a senator or a congressman,” Buttigieg said. “If they don’t want to spend a lot of time on it, they can vote ‘yes’ and move on, and that would be really reassuring to a lot of families across America.”

Rubio responded by video, slamming a slew of policies he attributed to Democrats, and said he would focus on ‘real issues’, not what he called an elite liberal Democratic agenda .

Rubio’s aides declined to discuss his position this week.

His director of campaign communications referred questions to Rubio’s official Senate office. His deputy chief of staff did not respond to questions on the issue in an email response, but instead suggested reporting on legislation to provide health care benefits to veterans suffering from exposure. to a toxic burning hotbed, something that “is going to become law and have a major impact on veterans.

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Hours after that statement, the fireplace legislation stalled when a majority of Senate Republicans blocked action. Rubio disagreed with most of his fellow Republicans and voted with Democrats to push the bill forward.

Moran said Log Cabin Republicans are encouraging members to lobby Rubio and U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., to vote for it. There is no indication when, or if, it will be voted on in the Senate.

The outlook is uncertain. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said this week that all 50 Democratic senators would vote yes, but supporters must have at least 10 Republicans to provide a total of 60 votes needed to overcome any effort by opponents to block the vote. action through an obstruction.

U.S. Representative Val Demings, D-Orlando, said in a statement that the legislation would “protect the fundamental right of every American couple to have their marriage treated as an equal under federal law.”

Rubio seeks a third term in November; Demings challenges him and has condemned his stance on the legislation.

“It’s embarrassing that Senator Marco Rubio of Florida calls a bipartisan effort to protect the freedom to marry whoever you love a ‘dumb waste of time,'” Demings said. “I thought marrying the person you love was always a good thing.”

Anthony Man can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @brocade politics

LGBTQ+ voters in South Florida’s Republican congressional districts

Estimated LGBTQ+ voters in South Florida congressional districts represented by Republicans.

All are approximate numbers based on still incomplete data in Florida’s voter registry, which is still being updated to reflect new district boundaries due to redistricting.

Estimates are based on the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

CD-26/Diaz-Balart—37,000.

CD-27/Salazar—40,000.

CD-28/Gimenez—40,000.

CD-21/Mast — 51,000.

— Source: Florida Democratic LGBTQ+ Caucus.