Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Wednesday that traditional American values are increasingly eroding in a speech that defended his opposition to same-sex marriage.
Rubio called for policies that will help people get an education and a job, and discussed the virtues of getting married and having children.
The possible 2016 presidential contender offered support for conservative values in a speech that touted themes that could play well with GOP primary voters. He said government had a role in these debates, even if federal policies can't be a panacea for all of society's problems.
The breakdown of traditional values, he said, “is not one that the government alone can solve, but he added that it’s “not one the government can ignore.”
In order to achieve economic security, Rubio argued Americans need an education, a job, to get married and to have children once they’re married.
He outlined several proposals to help people meet those ends: a tax credit to encourage scholarship grants for schools, reforms to increase access to more affordable higher education options and pro-family tax reform.
Rubio said he respects the arguments of same-sex marriage proponents but defended his support of traditional marriage, which he said is defined by one man and one woman.
There is “growing intolerance on this issue,” he said, in which those who oppose traditional marriage are attacked.
Rubio mentioned the former CEO of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, who supported traditional marriage and resigned; Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who told a shareholder who supports traditional marriage to invest elsewhere; and the head of Chick-fil-a, Dan Cathy, who was condemned for his anti-gay comments in 2012.
"I promise that even before this speech is over, I will be attacked as a hater, a bigot or anti-gay,” Rubio said.
"If support for traditional marriage is bigotry, then Barack Obama was a bigot until just before the 2012 election,” he added.
President Obama first publicly voiced support for same-sex marriage in May 2012.
Rubio reiterated his opposition to abortion, arguing that “an unborn person should be welcomed in life and welcomed in law.” He later said it’s “critically important” for pregnant women to have both a support network and opportunities to give the baby up for adoption.
Rubio slammed President Obama for not fulfilling the vision he outlined in his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
“Our current president has chosen to divide our people for the purpose of political gain. It truly is sometimes hard to believe that the state senator from Illinois who gave a stirring call to unity at the Democratic convention in 2004 is the same person who never passes up an opportunity to pit us against each other,” he said. “At our core, that’s not who were are as a people.”