Sen. Marco Rubio to Speak at Anti-Gay Fundraiser

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Tuesday November 12, 2013

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is scheduled to speak at a fundraiser for Mat Staver, a vehemently anti-gay activist who has supported Malawi's ban on homosexuality and is also suing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for signing a bill into law that bans conversion therapy, Mother Jones reports.

Rubio, who will most likely run for president in 2016, will give the keynote address at the event for the Florida Family Policy Council, a leading socially conservative group that supports conversion therapy, a controversial type of therapy that some believe can turn gay people straight. All major psychiatric groups in the U.S. have denounced the therapy, including the American Psychiatric Association, whose officials assert that the therapy can be dangerous and can "reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient."

According to Right Wing Watch, the event will be held on Nov. 16.

Staver, the dean of Liberty University School of Law and the founder of the Liberty Counsel, which filed a lawsuit against Christie last week and claimed that New Jersey's ban on conversion therapy prevented parents from treating their son.

New Jersey and California are currently the only two states in the country that ban psychiatrists from using conversion therapy on minors.

As Mother Jones reports, Staver has long campaigned against LGBT equality. In June he said that the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban LGBT workplace discrimination, would "result in significant damage and even death of some individuals." When the Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 last summer, the anti-gay activist claimed, once again, the justice's decision would bring the country closer to "the realm of rebellion."

Florida Family Policy Council is lead by John Stemberger, an anti-gay activist who helped launch a Boy Scouts splinter group that would ban openly gay youth, RWW reports. He's also said that homosexuality is an "artificial, social construct" that is "dangerous" and that people are gay because they believe it is "hip" and "cool."

Rubio has opposed marriage equality. In March, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Rubio said he supports states defining marriage in the "traditional way."