This year has not been kind to Marco Rubio. It began with talk of Florida's junior senator being the savior of the GOP. But then the prodigal son got parched on national television, and his insipid immigration reform was roundly rejected by fellow Republicans.
In recent months, Rubio has begun moving to the right to appease the Tea Party. Now comes the most extreme example of his conservative mea culpa. Next Saturday, Rubio is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech at the Florida Family Policy Council's annual awards dinner in Orlando.
The FFPC is vehemently homophobic. It's founder, John Stemberger, calls being gay "a pathology" and argues that allowing gays into the Boy Scouts will lead to "boy-on-boy molestation."
"This is the conservative dinner event of the year," the FFPC website says. "Our special keynote speaker will be U.S. Senator Marco Rubio who will be making headlines and news with a major policy speech you will not want to miss!"
It's hard to imagine that Rubio isn't aware of the homophobic statements made by FFPC officials.
Stemberger, for example, has argued that gay couples should not be able to adopt. "Two moms, or two dads, are an objectively inferior choice when compared to the option of a married mom and dad," he said in 2010. "Even single parents have the potential and often desire to marry a person of the opposite sex, but "gay families" are inherently fatherless or motherless. Finally, Florida's Attorney General presented research in court briefs showing that homosexuals as a population have disproportionally higher rates of social, mental, and physical pathologies."
The FFPC's website devotes a whole page to praying away the gay, including links to organizations devoted to reprogramming people.
So what reason does Rubio have for delivering a speech to such a controversial group? There are 10,000 reasons, actually: That's the price for a seat at Rubio's table next Saturday in Orlando.
Plus, Rubio isn't up for re-election until 2016, by which time he'll have drifted back to the political center and -- who knows -- perhaps into the presidency.
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Rubio's office could not be reached for comment.