The fight over marriage equality certainly appears to be over. The Supreme Court ruled; discriminatory laws have been replaced; couples are getting married; and most of the political world has simply moved on.
But Marco Rubio isn’t done fighting. In November, the Florida senator told TV preacher Pat Robertson’s cable show that he’s still “endeavoring” to “change” the law back to the way it was. “I continue to believe that marriage law should be between one man and one woman,” Rubio said at the time.
Yesterday, on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, MSNBC’s Emma Margolin reported on an instance in which Rubio ran into a voter who challenged him over this issue.
“So Marco, being a gay man, why do you want to put me back in the closet?” asked Timothy Kierstead, who was dining at the restaurant. Rubio came over to shake his hand, but the woman sitting next to Kierstead appeared to refuse.“I don’t,” Rubio replied. “You can live anywhere you want. I just believe marriage is between one man and one woman.”
When the local voter explained that he’s “already married,” and he didn’t appreciate the candidate’s effort “to say we don’t matter,” Rubio responded, “No, I just believe marriage is between one man and one woman…. I think that’s what the law should be, and if you don’t agree, you should have the law changed by the legislature.”
For the record, New Hampshire’s legislature actually changed the law before the Supreme Court’s ruling, though Rubio apparently isn’t aware of that.
He also may not fully appreciate how ridiculous it sounds for a presidential candidate, on the wrong side of public opinion, to keep talking about his desire to turn back the clock on civil rights. For most Americans, whether they agreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling or not, marriage equality is now the law of the land. There is no scenario in which the United States simply goes backwards because a Republican wants us to.
In this sense, Rubio is picking the worst kind of fight: pursuing the wrong goal, for the wrong reasons, which he’ll never be able to achieve.