LGBTQ South Florida

HRC: Potential GOP presidential candidates Bush and Rubio have long anti-gay records

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush pauses as he speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., Friday, Feb. 27, 2015.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush pauses as he speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. AP

Just as potential GOP presidental candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio arrived Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the nation’s largest LGBT-rights group challenged them and other Republican hopefuls over their stands on several important gay-rights issues.

“As governor of Florida, Jeb Bush consistently opposed marriage equality for LGBT Americans. And he showed a willingness to appoint staff and contribute money to causes that had strong anti-equality agendas,” reads a newly released fact sheet from Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

“Whether the issue is marriage equality or protecting workers from discrimination, Florida Senator Marco Rubio has consistently opposed giving LGBT Americans equal treatment,” reads another HRC fact sheet.

HRC this week launched a website, 2016 Republican Facts, which spotlights Bush, Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

“As a resource to journalists, this website highlights the public statements of Republican candidates on key issues including: support for marriage equality, support for non-discrimination bills, opposition to dangerous conversion therapy, history of harmful rhetoric, and support for the right of LGBT Americans to adopt,” reads a website introduction. “The second phase of the project will cover the positions of potential Democratic candidates on LGBT issues. As candidates evolve and expand their positions on LGBT issues, and as the field expands this research will be updated to take into account their most recent publicly available statements.”

According to HRC:

▪ Both Bush and Rubio have opposed same-sex marriage and LGBT workplace protections.

▪ Rubio has also opposed banning conversion therapy and allowing LGBT people to adopt.

▪ Bush’s record on gay adoption is mixed and he supports some anti-bullying measures.

▪ Rubio’s position on anti-bullying legislation is unknown.

HRC said it’s also unclear whether Bush and Rubio support “President Obama’s executive order that bars federal agencies and contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity … an order that applied to about 24,000 companies with an estimated 28 million workers.”

Last week, Bush attracted attention when it was reported he would likely hire Tim Miller, an openly gay GOP consultant, to lead campaign communications.

“At the end of the day, it isn’t rhetoric or hiring practices that count, it’s what a candidates stands for,” said Fred Sainz, HRC’s Washington, D.C.-based vice president for communications & marketing, originally from Coral Gables. “A candidate who is truly committed to LGBT equality will support marriage equality and support protecting all LGBT Americans from discrimination. While the tone of Jeb Bush’s language and word choice may have changed, he hasn’t yet articulated different policies from when he opposed marriage equality and opposed discrimination protections as governor. There are more questions than answers on where Bush stands today.”

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