Ru­bio stresses im­por­tance of morals to Amer­ica’s fu­ture

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture - BY MERED­ITH SOMERS

Jump­ing into the val­ues de­bate, Sen. Marco Ru­bio of Florida, a po­ten­tial GOP 2016 stan­dard-bearer, told a stand­ing-room-only au­di­ence at Catholic Univer­sity Wed­nes­day that a dis­con­nect on is­sues such as ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment and tra­di­tional mar­riage has brought the United States to an un­prece­dented so­cial and moral cri­sis.

An ad­mit­ted ad­vo­cate for tra­di­tional mar­riage as well as a sup­porter of the pro­life move­ment, Mr. Ru­bio at­tempted to find some com­mon ground on the hot-but­ton is­sues in the con­text of unit­ing the coun­try around “the goal of equal­ity of op­por­tu­nity.”

“We should ac­knowl­edge that our his­tory is marred by dis­crim­i­na­tion against gays and les­bians,” he said. “For­tu­nately, we have come a long way since then. Those who sup­port same-sex mar­riage have a right to lobby their state leg­is­la­tures to change state laws. But Amer­i­cans like my­self, who sup­port keep­ing the tra­di­tional def­i­ni­tion of mar­riage, also have a right to work to keep the tra­di­tional def­i­ni­tion of mar­riage in our laws with­out see­ing that over­turned by a judge.”

But the fresh­man se­na­tor, a Ro­man Catholic, also com­plained that those who ques­tion gay unions have faced “in­tol­er­ance” for their views from same-sex mar­riage ac­tivists.

“Even be­fore this speech is over, I will be at­tacked as some­one who is a hater or a bigot or some­one who is anti­gay,” he pre­dicted.

Mr. Ru­bio’s 2016 hopes for the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion have taken a hit with his ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion in the bi­par­ti­san im­mi­gra­tion bill that passed the Se­nate last year, a bill that in­cludes a path to cit­i­zen­ship for il­le­gal aliens that has proven deeply un­pop­u­lar with many in the Repub­li­can base.

The Catholic Univer­sity speech, high­light­ing his con­ser­va­tive so­cial views, fol­lows a string of pol­icy ad­dresses Mr. Ru­bio has given on is­sues rang­ing from col­lege tuition costs to a scathing cri­tique of Pres­i­dent Obama’s for­eign pol­icy.

On another di­vi­sive so­cial is­sue, Mr. Ru­bio said Wed­nes­day that while pro-choice ad­vo­cates can fight for a woman’s right to an abor­tion, those who are pro-life have a right to de­fend the life of an un­born child.

“It seems to me a de­cent, hu­mane so­ci­ety will take tan­gi­ble steps to help women with un­wanted preg­nan­cies, even as that so­ci­ety de­fends an un­born child’s right to live,” he said.

Mr. Ru­bio re­peat­edly stressed the need for a so­ci­ety with strong val­ues as a way to re­build the coun­try.

“A strong Amer­ica is not pos­si­ble with­out strong Amer­i­cans — a peo­ple formed by the val­ues nec­es­sary for suc­cess, the val­ues of ed­u­ca­tion and hard work, strong mar­riages and em­pow­ered par­ents,” he said. “We will never im­prove our peo­ple’s eco­nomic well­be­ing with­out also im­prov­ing their moral and so­cial well-be­ing.”

Mr. Ru­bio, in his re­marks, also touched on is­sues such as poverty and ed­u­ca­tion. And though he called for bi­par­ti­san ac­tion in pro­mot­ing those sub­jects, he vol­un­teered his own thoughts and a few so­lu­tions.

“Low-in­come chil­dren are the least likely to get a good ed­u­ca­tion be­cause they are the only ones forced to at­tend schools not of their par­ents’ choice,” Mr. Ru­bio said. “In order to give them a chance at the first el­e­ment of the suc­cess se­quence, we need our govern­ment to give their par­ents the op­por­tu­nity to choose the ed­u­ca­tion that is right for them.”

He has pro­posed tax cred­its to spur schol­ar­ships for lower-in­come chil­dren to at­tend pri­vate schools and more flex­i­bil­ity and fund­ing for char­ter schools.

Even if young peo­ple get a good early ed­u­ca­tion, there’s still the chal­lenge of find­ing a well-pay­ing job, the se­na­tor said. Mr. Ru­bio said that mak­ing re­forms at the vo­ca­tional or col­le­giate level can help strug­gling work­ing­class fam­i­lies find the best fit in terms of time and price tag.

“In the 21st cen­tury, a good ed­u­ca­tion is not just an op­tion, it is a ne­ces­sity,” he said. “And no group in Amer­ica faces more im­ped­i­ments to a good ed­u­ca­tion than chil­dren be­ing raised by sin­gle par­ents, many of whom are do­ing a heroic job of rais­ing their chil­dren by them­selves.”

The hall at Catholic Univer­sity was packed with a mostly youth­ful au­di­ence, pro­vid­ing a swel­ter­ing back­drop as Mr. Ru­bio spoke.

Talk­ing about em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, he joked at one point that some of his lis­ten­ers could be­come “an air con­di­tion­ing tech­ni­cian, so they could be here to­day.”


Sen. Marco Ru­bio at­tempted to find com­mon ground on hot-but­ton is­sues within the con­text of unit­ing the coun­try around “the goal of equal­ity of op­por­tu­nity.” The Catholic Univer­sity speech, high­light­ing his con­ser­va­tive so­cial views, fol­lows a string of ad­dresses Mr. Ru­bio has made on var­i­ous other pol­icy is­sues.

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