Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) warned in a newly published interview that condemnation of those who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds poses a "real and present danger" to Christianity.
The interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network marked the latest input from a Republican presidential hopeful on an issue that has received widespread attention in the nascent campaign.
"We are at the water's edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech," Rubio told CBN in the interview published online Tuesday. "Because today we've reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater."
Rubio went on to talk about what the next step will be.
"After they are done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church, is hate speech," he said. "That's a real and present danger."
Rubio, in line with the Republican presidential field, opposes gay marriage.
The debate over gay marriage has moved to the forefront of the political conversation in recent week, due largely to the Supreme Court weighing whether the Constitution protects gay marriages.
Recent polling showed a record share of Americans support same-sex marriage but most Republicans oppose it. The rapid shift in public opinion in recent years has forced Republicans to walk a difficult line between satisfying the conservative base and not alienating the rest of the public.
In an interview with Fusion broadcast last month, Rubio said that despite his opposition to same sex marriage, he would attend a gay wedding of someone he cared for was getting married, prompting others to ask the rest of the GOP field the same question and yielding varying responses.
"I'm not going to hurt them simply because I disagree with a choice they've made," Rubio said in his explanation.