Rubio aims to avoid same-sex rights as 'central issue' in immigration debate
February 5th, 2013
11:19 PM ET
1 year ago

Rubio aims to avoid same-sex rights as 'central issue' in immigration debate

(CNN) - Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday he hopes immigration rights for same-sex couples "doesn't become a central issue" in the ongoing debate, referring to it as a "landmine" that could thwart attempts to pass a comprehensive immigration reform package.

In a wide-ranging interview with BuzzFeed that streamed live online, the junior senator from Florida also raised questions about climate change and whether the government should play a role in combating it.

President Barack Obama has signaled that both issues – immigration and the environment – would be top priorities in his second term, pitting the president and the senator against each other as Washington grapples with how to confront the two topics.

Rubio was one of eight senators in a bipartisan group last week that outlined their framework for immigration reform. While their blueprint entailed similar proposals as the president's plan, some LGBT groups were quick to point out that the "Gang of Eight" did not include protections for same-sex couples who face legal battles in the immigration system.

Under federal law, same-sex couples facing visa obstacles are not granted the same rights as heterosexual couples, meaning a citizen could not sponsor his or her partner for legal status. Obama's plan states that it would "keep families together" by "giving U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner."

Asked Tuesday whether same-sex couples should be covered in any immigration package, Rubio said the group hadn't discussed the "pros and the cons of it."

"I can tell you this," he continued. "This issue is so complicated. The immigration issue has so many landmines and pitfalls that it's going to be hard enough to do, as is. I think if that issue becomes a central issue in the debate, it's just going to make it harder to get it done because there's going to be a lot of strong feelings about it on both sides."

Rubio, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, added he "respects peoples' views" and is "willing to listen to anyone's arguments" but reiterated, "I hope that doesn't become the central issue of this debate."

"I imagine that issue will eventually be confronted," he later added.

The subject, however, is already gaining traction. On Tuesday, the president met with a number of labor and progressive groups at the White House, including an LGBT organization called "Immigration Equality." Also Tuesday, a group of 16 House members, including two Republicans, re-introduced the "Uniting American Families Act," a bill that would allow gay and lesbian Americans to sponsor permanent partners for legal residency.

"Today, thousands of committed same-sex couples are needlessly suffering because of unequal treatment under our immigration laws, and this is an outrage," Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York said in a statement.

Rubio later stated in the interview that he opposes discriminating against people based on what they do in "the privacy of their lives," but reaffirmed he personally believes the definition of marriage should be between a man and a woman. Ultimately, he said, it's up to the states decide the marriage issue.

As for climate change, Rubio said that the "fundamental question" is whether manmade activity is contributing to changes in global temperatures. "I understand that people say there is a significant scientific consensus on that issue, but I've actually seen reasonable debate on that principle."

He further argued that unilateral steps taken to reduce carbon emissions or implement other energy efficiency regulations could have a "devastating" impact on the economy and questioned whether there is "anything government can do about that that will actually make a difference."

The costs may outweigh the benefits, he contended, saying more populous countries like China and India contribute far more pollution, and any environmental steps made in the United States would likely have a "very negligible impact" on the Earth, as a whole.

While Obama has yet to bring specific measures to Congress on climate change during his second term, he vowed in his inauguration speech to "respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."


Filed under: Immigration • Marco Rubio • President Obama • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    What sex is a coconut?

    February 6, 2013 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  2. aaron

    Repubs have gotten all humanitarian with Hispanics since their hardline cost them the presidency last Nov. No compassion (or treating like human beings) for gays until their votes will do something for Repubs.

    February 6, 2013 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  3. Thomas

    As for climate change, Rubio said that the "fundamental question" is whether manmade activity is contributing to changes in global temperatures. "I understand that people say there is a significant scientific consensus on that issue, but I've actually seen reasonable debate on that principle."

    He further argued that unilateral steps taken to reduce carbon emissions or implement other energy efficiency regulations could have a "devastating" impact on the economy and questioned whether there is "anything government can do about that that will actually make a difference."

    The costs may outweigh the benefits, he contended, saying more populous countries like China and India contribute far more pollution, and any environmental steps made in the United States would likely have a "very negligible impact" on the Earth, as a whole.

    So what Rubio is saying , is we are not a world leader when it comes to since and common sense .

    February 6, 2013 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  4. J.V.Hodgson

    I see clearly now Senator Rubio. In your eyes apparently we are all equal except that some of us are more equal than others. If we happen to be gay, lesbian or LGBT or whatever the acronyms are!? Then
    You think gays dont deserve ( because it might be too complicated!?!?) the same treatment as hetrosexuals how about you consider the constitutions rights clearly expressed of the right to pursuit of happiness and also any religious belief that does not persecute or discriminate gainst LGBT.
    Stop trying to sound reasonable... as your resonable is out of touch with the majority of Americans views of these people rights.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    February 6, 2013 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  5. Squigman

    Slime. Pure and simple slime.

    February 6, 2013 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  6. Gurgyl

    No matter what relying on foreigner resource is a stupidity. Job-train Americans in work force. You repent in a long run. Tighten immigration be it for doctors or IT. Period.

    February 6, 2013 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  7. Name lynn

    Rabuio its a different the same sex marriage an immigration, its a sin before god the same sex marriage let god handle the same sex marriage, an you need to let them immigration live in peace in america like you are rabuio.

    February 6, 2013 05:43 am at 5:43 am |
  8. Bob

    That China & India cause pollution so it would, therefore, not matter that the US contine to pollute , too? What kind of idiotic reasoning is that? Rubio, sit down and shut up, then, at least, you might LOOK smart.

    February 6, 2013 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  9. Evergreen

    Leaving our children and grandchildren a depleted and dying planet is far worse than leaving them in debt. Debt can be restructured a decaying environment can not.

    February 6, 2013 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  10. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    The gop continues to be the party of stupid and if you like to go backwards vote for the gop and the party of stupid and the fox dopes channel.

    February 6, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |