NPR Anchor to Rubio: ‘What Ground Do Opponents of Gay Marriage Have Left to Stand On?’

Barb Wire

By Tim GrahamBarbWire guest contributor

NPR Morning Edition anchor Steve Inskeep interviewed presidential candidate Marco Rubio for Tuesday’s program. Like Jake Tapper on his CNN show Tuesday — who told Rubio “you’re the candidate of yesterday” — Inskeep threw hardballs at Rubio for being in the wrong side of the polls on gay marriage. (Recent polls are showing about 60 percent in favor, 35 percent opposed).

The networks don’t seem to have done polls on forcing businesses to serve gay marriages. But Inskeep demonstrated a liberal swagger by suggesting social conservatives no longer had a leg to stand on:

STEVE INSKEEP: What if two gay people get married and then they go that night to a hotel? Can the hotelkeeper refuse service to them?

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MARCO RUBIO: That’s not part of an event. And I think that’s the distinction point that people have been pointing to and – because mainstream Christianity teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman. People feel very strongly about that. And to ask someone to individually provide services to something of that nature, I think, violates their religious liberty.

STEVE INSKEEP: There’s a big question lurking here, which is that most Americans, according to surveys, now support gay marriage. A large minority of Americans still oppose gay marriage. The question is – that people seem to be wrestling with is – what ground do opponents of gay marriage have left to stand on? What ground should they have to stand on?

MARCO RUBIO: Well, first of all, if the majority of Americans support gay marriage, then you’ll see it reflected in changes in state law, which has always regulated marriage. Separate from that, there’s a constitutional protection of religious liberty that allows people to live by the tenets of their faith, both in their public and in private life. That doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to go in and disrupt a gay wedding.

But by the same token, it doesn’t mean that someone’s allowed to come to you and force you to be a participant in a ceremony that violates the tenets of your faith. And to be honest, in the real word, 99.9 percent of time, a same-sex couple doesn’t want a florist or a photographer at their wedding that doesn’t agree with the choice that they’ve made.

PS: Inskeep also suggested Republicans had a serious Latino problem (or minority problem in general).

STEVE INSKEEP: When we spoke last year, we talked about immigration, an issue on which you worked for a time on an immigration reform bill. You said first, the reason to do that is not political, it’s substantive, but second, that there would be a political effect; that if the Republican Party deals with immigration, it would then have an opportunity to talk with Latino voters about other issues – and, of course, this is a voter group where Republicans have done very poorly in recent elections. Immigration hasn’t been dealt with. What are the likely consequences for the Republican Party in 2016?

MARCO RUBIO: From my perspective, I continue to believe it’s an issue we need to address. The only point I’ve made is that I think the lessons of the last couple years, for me, is that we’re not going to be able to deal with it in one big piece of legislation.

STEVE INSKEEP: The bill Rubio backed in 2013 included an eventual chance at citizenship for people here illegally. Facing fierce criticism from inside his party, he was seen by some as backing away. The Senate bill failed in the House. Rubio says he still supports smaller measures, and he hopes voters will understand that he tried.

How do you keep from getting hammered on that in a general election where the Hispanic vote may be very important?

MARCO RUBIO: Well, I don’t know about the others, but I’ve done more on immigration than Hillary Clinton ever did. I mean, I helped pass an immigration bill out of a – in a Senate dominated by Democrats. And that’s more than she’s ever done. She’s given speeches on it, but she’s never done anything on it. So I have a record of trying to do something on it. It didn’t work because at the end of the day, we did not sufficiently address the issue of illegal immigration. And I warned about that throughout that process as well that I didn’t think we were doing enough to give the bill a chance of moving forward in the House.

STEVE INSKEEP: There’s a big question here also because the Republican Party, as many people have noted, faces a demographic challenge that gets a little worse with every election cycle – growing groups in society, such as Latinos and others, are voting increasingly Democratic, and Republican voter groups, particularly older, white voters, are getting smaller. What’s the Republican Party need to do about that?

MARCO RUBIO: Well, at the end, I don’t think people go to the ballot box and say, I’m a Latino, therefore, I’m voting Democrat.

Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis.

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