Marco Rubio renews opposition to gay marriage at anti-LGBT event in Orlando

In a surprise twist, Florida Senator Marco Rubio has used his appearance at what was hailed as an anti-LGBT event to call for Christian conservatives to “love” LGBT people.

But he stopped short of showing acceptance for same-sex marriage, as he vowed his renewed opposition to it.

The Senator was the subject of protests for appearing at the event, a gathering of conservative pastors, in Orlando on the 2-month anniversary of the Pulse nightclub mass hate shooting.

The two-day event is titled ‘Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project’.

Rubio was also criticised by Florida Democrats for appearing at the event which was described as “an anti-LGBT rally”.

“It is now undeniable that there is a growing number of Americans who seek to expand that definition to include the union of two people of the same sex,” Rubio said in his speech.

“I continue to support the traditional definition of marriage.”

“And I do so not because I seek to impose my views on others, not because I seek to discriminate against anyone,” he said,

Adding: “But because I believe the union of a man and a woman is a special relationship with an extraordinary record of success in raising children and strong and successful people.”

He went on to say the people on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate need to avoid “hateful rhetoric”.

The Senator went on to say he didn’t think opposing same-sex marriage constituted “hate speech”, saying “the right of Americans to not be forced to violate the teachings of their faith in this matter.”

“This intolerance in the name of tolerance is hypocrisy,” he said.

He continued: “I must also speak to you about the rhetoric and actions of some of us who believe in traditional marriage, too. As we engage in the civic life of our country we are called to two important tasks. Yes, to stand for what our faith teaches, but also, to love people.”

“There are those in that community and in same-sex relationships whose love for one another is real, and who feel angry and humiliated that the law did not recognize their relationship as a marriage,” Rubio added.

“To love our neighbors, we must recognize that many have experienced sometimes, severe condemnation and judgment from some Christians,” he said.

“To love our neighbors, we must abandon a spirit of judgment. Do not judge or you will be judged.”

“And I want to be clear with you, abandoning judgment and loving our LGBT neighbors is not a betrayal of what the Bible teaches, it is a fulfillment of it.”

He added that “some are still going to try to shame you and silence you. They’re still going to call you a bigot and a hater. And yet we must still love our neighbor. Because these voices do not speak for the entire LGBT community.”

Trump also addressed the debate, leading Democrats to call him “unfit to serve”.

Donald Trump appeared as a speaker behind closed doors at the evangelical anti-LGBT group’s rally – just days after controversially meeting with anti-gay activists in Orlando.