Florida Senator Marco Rubio told pastors during a conference on Rediscovering God in Orlando that loving gay people, instead of judging them, is a fulfillment of the teachings of the Bible, rather than something that goes against it.
"In order to love people you have to listen to them," Rubio said in his speech at the Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project, according to Breitbart News. "You have to understand their perspective, their hopes and their dreams and their fears and their pain."
Rubio ran for this year's Republican presidential nomination. He dropped out in March after failing to win his home state of Florida. He had decided to retire from the Senate this year, but changed his mind after hearing from Republican leaders concerned about losing control of the Senate.
Rubio insisted that he supports the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman, but urged Christians to understand why gay people feel angry and humiliated that some do not recognize their relationship as a marriage.
The Florida Senator also warned that those who preach that God condemns America because of gay people only add to the hurt and division.
"As if somehow, God was willing to put up with adultery, and gluttony, and greed and pride, but now, this is the last straw," he offered.
Rubio continued: "To love our neighbors, we must abandon a spirit of judgment. Do not judge or you will be judged. For in the same way you judge others you will be judged. And with a measure you use it will be used to measure you. And we should remember not to ignore the plank in our own eye."
He further insisted that "abandoning judgment and loving our LGBT neighbors is not a betrayal of what the Bible teaches, it is a fulfillment of it."
Rubio suggested that failing to show love toward gay people is akin to failing to walk in the footsteps of Christ.
"And if any of us, myself included, in any way, have ever made anyone feel that Christianity wants nothing to do with them, then I believe deeply that we have failed deeply to represent our Lord Jesus Christ who time and again went out of his way to reach out to the marginalized and to the forgotten of his time," he said, according to The Daily Mail.
Attitudes toward gay people and gay marriage were one of the points of contention between Republican presidential candidates earlier this year. Back in February, Texas Senator Ted Cruz accused Rubio and Donald Trump of sounding like President Barack Obama when talking about June 2015's Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage.
Rubio had said back then that although he believes in the traditional definition of marriage, "we live in a republic and must abide by the law," but later insisted that the ruling is not the settled law of the land.
Still, Cruz said at the time that Rubio and Trump were not speaking loudly enough against gay marriage.
"There is something profoundly wrong when Republican presidential candidates are repeating Barack Obama's talking points on gay marriage, saying 'we surrender, we give up, we might as well light the White house up in rainbow colors,'" the Texas Senator said.