Marco Rubio: Being gay not a choice, but gays shouldn’t have a right to marry

In case you haven’t heard, Marco Rubio is the new fresh face of the GOP. He’s down. He’s hip. And while he still isn’t on board with the majority of young Republicans who support marriage equality, he at least recognizes that being gay isn’t a choice.

Wait. What?

Marco Rubio appears to be a little bi-curious in his positions on marriage. In an appearance on Face the Nation on Sunday, Marco Rubio said that being gay is not a choice:

Said Rubio:

I also don’t believe that your sexual preferences are a choice for the vast and enormous majority of people. In fact, the bottom line is, I believe that sexual preference is something people are born with.

However, he then went on to state that he still believes that “marriage should be between one man and one woman,” but “it’s not that I’m against gay marriage.” Because those two assertions don’t contradict each other. At all.

Rubio’s admission that being gay isn’t a choice is a bit of a backtrack from how he understood sexual orientation at late as last Wednesday, when he said that he would attend a same-sex marriage despite his personal opposition to it. In his interview with Fusion‘s Jorge Ramos, Rubio based his answer on the premise that being gay was a choice:

I’m not going to hurt them simply because I disagree with a choice they’ve made or because I disagree with a decision they’ve made, or whatever it may be. Ultimately, if someone that you care for and is part of your family has decided to move in one direction or another or feels that way because of who they love, you respect that because you love them.

In both interviews, Rubio went on to reiterate that he personally does not support marriage equality, and that it’s a decision best left to the states via referenda and legislation as opposed to the courts.

But if being gay is not a choice, that position makes no sense.

Much of the argument against a national right to marriage equality, along with arguments against establishing LGBT as a protected class in anti-discrimination laws, is predicated on the idea that sexuality is a choice. Marriage equality and other LGBT-inclusive legislation have often been dismissed as appeals for “special” rights, as opposed to “equal” rights, because they are considered to be unnecessary. After all, if you choose to be gay and you’re discriminated against, why not just choose to be straight?

Just ask Ben Carson.

So if you’re choosing to be gay, the argument goes, the government doesn’t have to legally protect that choice. You’re more than welcome to advocate for yourself politically, but you have no legal rights to marriage or anti-discrimination that, say, the African-American community does. They didn’t choose to be a part of a minority group; you did.

As soon as you concede that being gay isn’t a choice, your entire argument for taking marriage equality out of the court system and punting it to state legislatures crumbles. Despite what many in the GOP would rather have be the case, facts that don’t change shouldn’t be put up for a vote. If sexual orientation isn’t a choice, then it deserves the same rights and protections as race and gender. I’d add religion, too, but seeing as one’s religion actually is a choice — one that Marco Rubio has himself changed on multiple occasions — it may be best to just say that religion is protected under anti-discrimination laws because we’ve decided it’s a nice thing to do. Not because one’s religion is determined from birth and unalterable.

At this point, it’s literally impossible to reconcile all of Marco Rubio’s positions on LGBT issues. He’s against marriage equality, but he isn’t opposed to it. He doesn’t believe being gay is a choice, but he wouldn’t let the choices his friends make keep him from attending a gay wedding. In an attempt to prove that he’s the candidate who can expand the GOP’s appeal to younger voters — the candidate that “gets it” when it comes to those tricky Millennials — he has contorted himself into a pretzel of contradictory views on very simple questions.

As with his rapid 180 degree spins on immigration, where he backed away from and then criticized his own reform bill,  he’s given constituencies on all sides of the marriage equality debate something to hit him with. Admitting that being gay isn’t a choice does him no favors in the Republican primary; punting on actually supporting marriage equality by ducking behind “states’ rights” language puts him in hot water with the rest of the electorate. Especially since almost everyone who acknowledges that being isn’t a choice takes the logical next step to recognize that, since it isn’t a choice, the Supreme Court and not the state legislature is the appropriate place to decide the issue.

Presidential candidates have to be nimble with their policy positions, and they should be allowed to say they were wrong if they really have changed their mind on something. But there’s a fine line between being nimble and tripping over yourself. Rubio’s inability to decide how he feels about (his position on) sexual orientation spells trouble for his nascent campaign.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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30 Responses to “Marco Rubio: Being gay not a choice, but gays shouldn’t have a right to marry”

  1. Sparafucile says:

    You realize homosexuality is a spectrum, and not a binary function, don’t you?

    Easily more than 15% of the women I’ve ever known don’t fall squarely on the “straight” side of that spectrum.

  2. UncleBucky says:

    Oh, don’t you think he’s gonna be an early crash-and-burn-er? :)

  3. wayne says:

    Well, Marco… many slaves do you own????

  4. scot sims says:

    Despite decades and millions of dollars spent on research, there is NO evidence that HETEROSEXUALS are “born that way”.

    Interesting how people like you like to call gays sexual perverts. It appears you’re unaware of the fact that 30-40% of heterosexual couple practice “Sodomy”, both anal and oral. In fact women achieve orgasm while having sex in the missionary position, +/- 55% achieve orgasm through oral sex, but women achieved orgasm through anal sex a whopping 95% of the time.

    Regarding the APA: Funny how a “statically insignificant” (your words) group of homosexuals wrestled the membership of the APA to the ground and made them change the classification of homosexuality. 40 years later it’s still not been reinstated as a “mental illness” which is funny given the fact that if the entire membership was against it they would have installed officers with that belief to do so.

    Quite often those with extreme radical evangelical christian mania are actually the ones suffering from delusions and other mental illnesses.

    You’ve already lost. Get over it.

  5. Butch1 says:

    I read that after I was busy typing away. ;-)
    Thanks, though. Perhaps I’ll pay more attention. ;-

  6. Moderator4 says:

    Jon already blacklisted him/her, yesterday.

  7. Butch1 says:

    What are you trying to say? You need “political clout” to have Equal Rights in this country? Are you really as foolish as you sound?

    You may want to dismiss us, but thank goodness we have a Constitution that WE all live under. Kindly go away, GCO. This is a gay site and if you are here to cause problems, you will not be tolerated.

  8. Butch1 says:

    Marco, you cannot pick and choose which citizens can have all the rights and which can only be second-class citizens. You know better than that. If that is the way you think, you are definitely not ready to lead or run this country as a President of ALL of its people. We all must have Equal Rights and that means marriage rights as well, Marco. This is a government contract.

  9. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    It’s almost too bad that you were banned, because you’re not a deep thinker. Apparently, you were obviously too busy to supply links to those legitimate population studies. If you look at the number of men who have ever had sex with another man, I think you might get close to 10%. Many of those men self identify as straight.

    The main problem with your statement is that there is really no way of determining the number of gay men (apparently you are not paying any attention to gay women and bisexuals) in the population. The first problem is that my generation was decimated (with a big thanks to Lord Reagan). The second problem is that many gay men are still closeted for some reason. Let’s say that you are correct about the 1.8% to 2.2%. That’s all the more reason for the courts to see that we are given all civil rights. Someone has to look out for the little guys.

    Are we insignificant in numbers? Maybe, but we all have mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, friends, coworkers, employers, employees, neighbors, etc. Now do you see why you are not a deep thinker?

  10. BeccaM says:


  11. Jon Green says:

    Yep, they’re blacklisted. You’re welcome to argue here, but you’re not welcome to call homosexuality a mental illness.

  12. mirth says:

    Reading a bit of your commenting history (because, y’know, one can take only so much idiocy), one thing becomes clear:

    You know a thing’rtwo about mental illness.

  13. mark_in_toronto says:

    And another quick thought.
    How about the media asking REAL questions that involve experience, intelligence, insight and innovation?
    Not opinions about social and emotional issues?
    Can it be this pathetic this early in the game?
    I guess so.

  14. mark_in_toronto says:

    My god . . . it’s gonna be a looooooonnnnnng 17 months.

  15. BeccaM says:

    You’re funny. I also suspect your stay here will be very, very brief.

  16. Great Caesar 0bama says:

    “Republican far-right orthodoxy”

    Ah HAHAHAHAHAHA! You must be guzzling a load of left wing Kool-Aid. The fact is that the Republicans are little more than Democrat-Lite. Most elected Republicans are liberals, aka RINOs.

  17. Great Caesar 0bama says:

    Every legitimate study for the last 30 years has shown that homosexuals comprise a mere 1.8% to 2.2% of the U.S. population (the old “10%” number was just pulled out of Alfred Kinsey’s arse with NO scientific basis whatsoever).

    Homosexuals are statistically insignificant. If it wasn’t for the fact that the radical left has adopted them as their Official Sexual Perversion, they would have no political clout at all.

  18. Great Caesar 0bama says:

    Despite decades and millions of dollars spent on research, there is NO evidence that homosexuals are “born that way.”

    However, that doesn’t mean it’s a “choice”, either. Very, very few people would “choose” to have a sexual perversion. As a group, homosexuals are very depressed with a high suicide rate. I’m sure that pedophiles and zoophiles would also much rather be normal.

    Keep in mind that the APA only removed homosexuality from the DSM IV as a mental illness because of political pressure and NOT because of any new findings. In fact, the APA board took that actiona against the wishes of its members.

    It’s not politically correct to say so, but homosexuality is a mental illness. No one “chooses” to be mentally ill.

  19. mirth says:

    More than the sub-intellect and moronic beliefs of Rubio and the rest of the bunch representing the republican party this go ’round, it’s their f’k’n gall to think they are presidential material. This one thing alone, that’s what gets me.

  20. BeccaM says:

    Oh, it’s an attempt at a significant shift — to not say that being gay is “a lifestyle choice.” But it still won’t work because as I mention in above, he’s still on record as supporting all of the actual anti-gay policy outcomes written into the GOP party platform.

  21. BeccaM says:

    Rubio is trying desperately to find a way out of the rigid Republican far-right orthodoxy, while at the same time not appearing as if he’s violating it.

    It won’t work. There are skillful ways to pander to both sides of a political divide, but Rubio hasn’t a f*cking clue how to do it.

    It also doesn’t matter what a majority of registered and/or ‘likely voter’ Republicans want. It’s the far-right radical wing of the GOP calling the shots now, with their ‘Spanish Inquisition’-style Tea Bagger contingent to ensure absolute adherence to an ever growing list of crazy, authoritarian, theocratic, xenophobic, anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, hyper-capitalist, ‘sovereign citizen’ positions — no matter how many of those positions are increasingly contradictory with one another.

    These days a GOP candidate is permitted to remain silent on some of their hot-button issues. If they open their mouths to say anything about gay people, other than evading the question, the only words permitted to be uttered are some variant of “lifestyle choice”, “states rights” (to discriminate), “religious freedom” (to be a homophobic jackass), and “keep gays away from children” (because a loyal GOPer is supposed to believe homosexuality and pedophilia are synonyms).

    But Rubio is trying to have it both ways. To express support for all of the intended outcomes of far-right anti-gay positions, while at the same time pretending he doesn’t actually think there’s anything morally wrong or sinful about being a gay person. Won’t work, not with today’s GOP.

    In short, a skilled panderer can pander without giving the appearance of blatant pandering. Rubio? Forget it.

  22. goulo says:

    Perhaps they figure that in a decade or so they can just deny that they were on the wrong side of history, just as many of the people who were rabidly racist a few decades ago are silent about it now or deny it…

  23. 2karmanot says:

    Exactly so. That’s like Rand Paul’s statement to Rachel Maddow: that while he loves, loves, loves Black people it should be perfectly legal to discriminate against them. Insert ‘gay’, move to the front of the bigot line and do the cake walk.

  24. Naja pallida says:

    I wish I could say this was just him pandering to the bigots, who seem to be the only ones to turn up to vote in Republican primaries, but this isn’t far off from the standard Republican stance. It’s silly though. They can’t be so oblivious as to not see the reality of the issue, and that they’re solidly on the wrong side of history. Again.

  25. Naja pallida says:

    Our situation on immigration is so pathetic right now that we have actually been forcing Mexico to do our border enforcement for us. Making the Mexican government do the work of trying to detain people coming up from Central America, and attempting to prevent them from reaching the US/Mexico border. Volunteers have been working to document the people (as well as feeding and caring for them) so when many of them inevitably turn up dead in the cartel-controlled regions, there is some kind of accounting about just who they were and where they were from.

    Our own immigrant detention centers are basically concentration camps for “undesirables”. Where abuse, rape, and other forms of mistreatment of everyone detained there, including children, is the norm. And the people there have absolutely no recourse; who are they going to complain to? A new large facility is set to open next month in southern Texas. All of this is a feature, not an anomaly, of the Obama administration’s immigration policy – or lack thereof. This raging socialist of a President has overseen a crackdown on immigrants that should make Dick Cheney jealous he didn’t think of it.

    And to think, the only Republican stance on immigration is to accuse Obama of being soft on immigrants.

  26. Indigo says:

    Maybe he’s been hanging out with Ricky Martin again.

  27. Houndentenor says:

    It’s laughable that I have to consider this progress, but it is. In 2004 when asked this question Bush answered “I don’t know.” it would mean more if Rubio was a viable candidate and I think this answer will cost him in Iowa and South Carolina and not gain him anything in New Hampshire so even if he weren’t already set up to be an also-ran, this would do it.

  28. Relativicus says:

    I dunno if I can agree here. The idea that says “Of course immigrants deserve human rights… just not until they’re here legally” seems to be working across the board among the GOP (excepting, naturally, among those who do not believe immigrants deserve, or actually in, human rights).

  29. Bill_Perdue says:

    One tiny step forward, one giant leap backwards.

    Like most Republicans and many Democrats, Rubio is an bigot, contemptuous of our rights. The Democrats who buried ENDA or a for the last 40 are lying and sometimes rebranded bigots.

    We need a broader version of ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, cleansed of all the garbage added on by Democrats to appease the cults. ENDA or legislation like it has been around for over 40 years and in all that time the Democrats and Republicans have refused to pass it, confirming their status as parties dominated by bigots and those who pander to bigots.

    Even better, we need a robust federal Civil Rights Amendment covering public access, employment and housing for ourselves, people of color, women, trade unionists and immigrant and imported workers that makes it easy to sue and win and provides harsh penalties for offenders.

  30. goulo says:

    It’s a bit like saying “It’s not that I’m against equal rights for black people. I just believe that only white people should be allowed to sit in the front of the bus.”

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