Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called out Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Sunday for his comments that a vote on a bill protecting same-sex marriage would be a “stupid waste of time.”
“If he’s got time to fight against Disney, I don’t know why he wouldn’t have time to help safeguard marriages like mine,” Buttigieg told CNN “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper.
Earlier this year, Rubio was among the Florida GOP officials who attacked Disney over its opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill restricting discussion of gender identify in elementary schools.
Rubio made his latest comments after the House advanced the Respect for Marriage Act, which would codify marriage rights for same-sex and interracial couples.
Democrats introduced the bill in response to concerns about Justice Clarence Thomas’s opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, in which he also called on the court to revisit other rights including marriage equality.
The bill poses a problem for Republicans, given the widespread public support for recognizing same-sex marriage, but the continued belief among social conservatives that marriage should be defined as being between a man and a woman.
Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.), who faces a close race for reelection, announced Thursday that he would vote for the House-passed bill, though he also accused Democrats of playing politics.
The first openly LGTBQ+ Cabinet secretary approved by the Senate, Buttigieg talked about the bill in the context of his own marriage.
“I don’t know why this would be hard for a senator or a congressman,” he told Tapper.
“I don’t understand, because such a majority of House Republicans voted no on our marriage on as recently as Tuesday, hours after I was in a room with a lot of them talking about transportation policy, having what I thought were perfectly normal conversations with many of them on that subject, only for them to go around the corner and say that my marriage doesn’t deserve to continue.”
If Republicans want to spend minimal time on the bill, “they can vote yes and move on,” the Transportation secretary added. “And that would be really reassuring for a lot of families around America, including mine.”
Rubio responded to Buttigieg in a video posted on Twitter later on Sunday, saying the transportation secretary didn’t know the difference between state and federal-level fights.
“I’m gonna focus on the real problems,” Rubio said. “I’m not gonna focus on the agenda dictated by a bunch of affluent elite liberals, and a bunch of Marxist misfits who sadly today control the agenda of the modern Democratic party.”
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the first openly LGBTQ senator, told CNN on Thursday that she confronted Rubio over his comments.
She said they talked in a congressional elevator about privacy rights being jeopardized and eliminated by recent Supreme Court rulings. Rubio reportedly disagreed with Baldwin’s arguments.
Updated: 9:17 p.m.