WATCH: Marco Rubio Extols Morality to 'Ex-Gay' Supporters

By Sunnivie Brydum

Originally published on Advocate.com November 18 2013 1:59 PM ET

As previously reported by The Advocate, Sen. Marco Rubio headlined a right-wing conference Saturday hosted by the Florida Family Policy Council, an antigay group that counts a veritable who's who of homophobic activists and pundits among its honorees. 

Rubio, considered by some to be a conservative contender for the 2016 presidential nomination, argued that a Judeo-Christian view of morality should take a more prominent place in American politics, bemoaning the declining morality of the United States in his 22-minute speech. 

"The moral well-being of our nation is our business. It's everybody's business," Rubio said to energetic applause. "The debate we should be having isn't whether or not we have a right to talk about values and morals in the public square, the debate we should be having instead is which values and morals our nation should focus on." 

Rubio also cited the Declaration of Independence, saying that everything in "this unique and exceptional nation" flows from the "powerful truth" that man is "endowed by his creator with certain inalienable rights." 

Rubio said the nation's abolition of slavery and the end of of racial segregation "are a direct result of this commitment to the value and worth of every human life." 

While Rubio's speech steered clear of direct mention of LGBT issues, the Associated Press reports that Rubio's speech was bookended by videos from the group's president, John Stemberger, denigrating marriage equality, opposing gay scoutmasters in the Boy Scouts, and cautioning against transgender people who want to be school teachers. Stemberger was a key player in the successful campaign to amend the Florida constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage, notes AP. 

Saturday's annual fundraiser  also honored Mat Staver, the rabid anti-LGBT activist, dean of the right-wing Liberty University's law school, and founder of Liberty Counsel, which recently filed a lawsuit aimed at striking down New Jersey's recently passed ban on "ex-gay" therapy.

Watch an excerpt of Rubio's speech below.