Bias Watch

Marco Rubio promises anti-LGBTQ churches they can have coronavirus stimulus money

Marco Rubio
Sen. Marco Rubio on the campaign trail in 2016, when he ran in the Republican primaryPhoto: Shutterstock

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told anti-LGBTQ churches in a conference call that he would ensure that federal money meant for coronavirus relief would go to them.

Rubio was speaking on an “urgent pastor briefing” last week that was organized by the Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC), a Christian conservative organization that, among other things, opposes LGBTQ rights.

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On its website, the FFPC says that its mission is to fight “radical LGBT activists” who want to “force all Americans to approve, support, and celebrate their lifestyle.”

On the call, Rubio discussed the $1.6 trillion stimulus bill that the Senate is working on to blunt the economic fallout from the global pandemic.

A pastor asked him if it would include money for churches.

“The package that I’ve been tasked with establishing… is open to nonprofits. Basically churches and other nonprofit groups,” Rubio responded.

“The gist of it… is the government is going to basically step forward and tell small businesses and not-for-profits, ‘Whatever your normal operating costs are — primarily rent, or lease, or the cost of real estate, and the cost of payroll that existed before this crisis [such as] what was it on March 1 — whatever that is, we’re going to lend you four times that- or give you four times that,'” Rubio said.

“And a year from now, you are going to show your books, and if you spent that money that you took out from this program through your bank for purposes of maintaining payroll and paying your overhead so your lights didn’t go out and that sort of thing, it is going to be forgiven.”

The U.S. Senate is currently negotiating another stimulus bill in response to the pandemic that will allow nonprofits to receive funds allocated to small businesses.

Senate Republicans are pushing for a measure that would exclude health care nonprofits that receive Medicaid funding – an attempt to exclude women’s health care provider Planned Parenthood but that would also exclude group homes, community health centers, and other health nonprofits.

FFPC is led by anti-LGBTQ activist John Stemberger, who helped launch an anti-gay branch of the Boy Scouts and who has deep ties with Sen. Rubio.

Stemberger opposes transgender people serving openly in the military, anti-discrimination laws that include LGBTQ people, and marriage equality.

He referred to homosexuality as a “pathology” and said transgender people “need help” for their “mental disease.” He has also said that marriage equality is a “perversion of God’s design,” “harmful to children,” and is comparable to incest.

FFPC supports conversion therapy.

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