Marco Rubio raising money for group that tries to "cure" gay people

The Florida senator is keynoting a fundraiser for a notorious anti-LGBT rights group

By Katie McDonough

Published November 11, 2013 11:15PM (EST)

Marco Rubio                              (Reuters/Yuri Gripas)
Marco Rubio (Reuters/Yuri Gripas)

Sen. Marco Rubio, who is probably going to run for president in 2016, is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at a fundraising dinner for the Florida Family Policy Council, a conservative organization that promotes so-called conversion therapy, a discredited counseling practice that claims to "cure" gay people and turn them straight.

More from Tim Murphy at Mother Jones:

According to an invitation to the November 16 event, first reported by the progressive watchdog siteRight Wing Watch, the dinner will honor Staver, dean of Liberty University School of Law and founder of the Liberty Counsel, which provides legal support to social conservative organizations. Staver's group filed a lawsuit against Christie last week alleging that New Jersey's new ban on gay conversion therapy prevented a couple from properly treating their son. Staver has a history of making incendiary claims about gays. In June, he claimed that the passage of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit employers from discriminating against LGBT employees and applicants, would "result in significant damage and even death of some individuals." After the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last summer, Staver suggested the decision would bring the nation closer to "the realm of rebellion."

John Stemberger, the Florida Family Policy Council's president, is also an anti-gay activist. He is chairman of Trail Life, the "moral alternative" to the Boy Scouts of America, which recently lifted its ban on gay Scouts. Trail Life won't accept openly gay boys as members, but offers counseling services to kids who suffer from "gender confusion."

Rubio's planned presence at the event seems pretty in keeping with his history on LGBT rights issues. He has spoken publicly about how he believes that being gay is a sin and has called protections for LGBT workers "special protections based on orientation," which -- surprise -- he does not support.


Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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Gay Conversion Therapy Lgbt Rights Marco Rubio