Josh Barro, a writer for The New York Times, wants to stamp out what he considers to be “anti-LGBT” attitudes from communities “ruthlessly.” Barro was writing in response to a speech Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, gave where he mentioned he was in support of marriage as union of a man and woman.

In a tweet sent Wednesday, Barro wrote:

Barro is a domestic correspondent for The New York Times, where he writes on economic issues including fiscal policy and labor markets. In May 2013, he was coined “the Loneliest Republican” by the Atlantic and regularly comments on LGBT issues.

His tweet, calling to “ruthlessly” stamp out pro-traditional marriage attitudes, sparked backlash from conservative commentators, including The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher, who wrote:

If you are the sort of person who thinks traditional Christians are ‘obsessed’ with sex, you need to think about how it would feel to you to you to read a tweet that said, Pro-LGBT attitudes are terrible for people in all sorts of communities. They linger and oppress, and we need to stamp them out, ruthlessly.’

Ryan T. Anderson, William E. Simon Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and co-author of the book cited twice by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, also expressed dismay over Barro’s tweet:

Josh Barro is rightly looked to as a thought leader in American politics, so it is disconcerting that he fails to recognize that reasonable people of good will are on both sides of the marriage debate. That, as President Obama said, supporters of marriage ‘are not coming at it from a mean-spirited perspective.’

Anderson, who has written extensively on marriage, argued “it is intellectually dishonest” for Barro to compare the debate over marriage to the debate over segregation and to compare supporters of marriage to racists.

In another tweet, Barro said:

“Race has nothing to do with marriage, and laws that kept the races apart were wrong,” said Anderson. “Marriage has everything to do with uniting the two halves of humanity—men and women, as husbands and wives and as mothers and fathers—so that any children that their union produces will be united by the man and woman who gave them life. This is why principle-based policy has defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

“Bans on interracial marriage and Jim Crow laws, by contrast,” Anderson added, “were aspects of a much larger insidious movement that denied the fundamental equality and dignity.”

Josh Barro and The New York Times could not be reached for comment.

This story was updated at 11:12 P.M. Saturday, July 26.

On Saturday, in response to Anderson’s argument, Barro Tweeted:

Shortly thereafter, Ross Douthat, another New York Times columnist, chimed in:

Anderson concluded with the argument, “Once you say marriage is just about consenting adult romance and care-giving, why place any limits on eligibility?” He also led Barro and Douthat to an issue brief by The Heritage Foundation that examines the social costs of abandoning marriage.