Rubio on protecting gay marriage: 'I don't vote for fake problems'

"The chances that Nancy Pelosi will endorse me in my Senate reelection are higher than the chances of that going anywhere," Florida Senator Marco Rubio told reporters Friday during a visit to Tampa after being asked if he would vote for a bill to ensure the rights of same-sex couples to marry.

Rubio was in town to discuss issues related to trade and Florida's ports, but he took questions from reporters, who asked him about a recent exchange he reportedly had with a CNN reporter, and then Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) in an elevator in Washington, D.C. 

According to CNN, Rubio told a reporter that a bill to ensure the rights of same-sex couples to marry was a "stupid waste of time," but Sen. Baldwin, who is openly gay, was in the elevator and responded to Rubio's remarks during a later appearance on CNN. 

RELATED: Respect for Marriage Act roll call: How did Florida representatives vote?

She told the news outlet that the conversation she had with Rubio afterward was private, but it apparently did not have an impact on his thinking on the matter.

Rubio comes out as ‘no’ vote for gay marriage

FOX 13's Kellie Cowan asked Rubio Friday if he would support a bill that would guarantee the right to marriage for anybody, regardless of gender.

Marco Rubio speaks in Tampa about gay marriage rights

Photo: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio answered questions in Tampa Friday about his remarks that any threat to gay marriage was a 'non-issue' and he would not vote for a bill that ensure the right to marry

"I don't think we should be spending time on a non-issue and a non-problem. It's as simple as that. I just don't. Not when people are paying $4.66 for gas. Not when inflation and prices for some of the most basic goods and services in our country are crushing middle class Americans," Rubio said, adding illegal drugs, illegal immigration and other crimes to the list.

MORE: Supreme Court rulings protecting same-sex relationships could face challenge

"This is just not real. It's a fake problem. I don't vote for fake problems. I don't vote to solve problems that don't exist. It's important for the priorities of the people in Washington to be the priorities of the people that sent us there," Rubio said.

Same-sex marriage and the midterms

Rubio and other Senators hoping for re-election during the 2022 midterm elections are taking sides on a number of issues at the top of their constituents' minds: abortion, gun regulations, inflation, and crime, among others. 

Some Republicans, including Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, have agreed with Rubio's sentiment on the necessity of a law to ensure the right to marry, but have signaled they would still vote ‘yes’ if presented with such a bill. 

The House of Representatives, including 47 Republicans, voted to advance the Respect for Marriage Act (HR 8404) to the Senate. 

Impact of Roe vs. Wade decision on gay marriage, privacy

The bill would codify same-sex marriage and comes after the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, which was initially decided in 1973 based on the right to privacy in the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause. 

The decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade partially hinged on the majority opinion that – because there was no specific guarantee to the right to an abortion written in the Constitution – the right to privacy clause was not enough to force states to allow the procedure.

Legal experts and proponents of the right for same-sex couples to marry worry the same reasoning could be applied to the Supreme Court's 2015 decision on Obergefell vs. Hodges, which required all states to allow and recognize same-sex marriages.

While Rubio dismissed any potential threat to the right for same-sex couples to marry, he did not dismiss Sen. Baldwin, saying she is "one of the nicest people in the Senate." 

"Obviously, she supports her bill. She wants a chance. I told her I don't think it's a real issue. I don't think there's any threat. She believes differently. And I told her I'd hear her out, and we'll talk more. Have tremendous respect for her," Rubio said.