In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody, Rubio warned that gay marriage represents "a real and present danger" to America because gay rights advocates are bent on labeling any anti-gay messages, including those from churches, as "hate speech."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has invested considerable energy in creating a specific political "brand": he's the young one in the Republican presidential field, offering a fresh, modern perspective, untethered to old assumptions and stale, 20th-century ideas.
It would be a far more compelling pitch if there weren't such a chasm between the message and the messenger. Consider, for example, the Republican senator's latest interview with radical TV preacher Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network.
It stands to reason that when a GOP presidential candidate sits down for an interview with a televangelist's outlet, he or she is going to take some pretty hard lines in the hopes of impressing the religious right movement. But I'll admit to being a little surprised by just how far Rubio was willing to go with CBN.
"We are at the water's edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech, because today we've reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage, you are labeled a homophobe and a hater," Rubio argued with a straight face.
"So what's the next step after that? After they're done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church, is hate speech. And that's a real and present danger."
No, actually, it's not. In fact, it's rather alarming to hear a leading candidate for national office share such paranoia out loud and on camera.
"We are at the water's edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech"? No, there's nothing to suggest this is even remotely true.
"After they're done going after individuals..." Wait, who's "going after" individuals based on their opinions about equal marriage rights?
As for "a real and present danger," I believe the phrase Rubio is looking for is "clear and present danger," a term of art that really doesn't make sense in this context.
TV preacher Pat Robertson was apparently impressed with what Rubio had to say. The Florida Republican shouldn't necessarily consider that good news -- when radical televangelists are impressed by a vision of right-wing paranoia, it tends to mean they're moving further from the American mainstream, not closer to it.