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American Actor Mark Ruffalo Retracts His Viral Endorsement of Brazilian Presidential Hopeful Over Gay Marriage

Mark Ruffalo's The Hulk, from The Avengers. YouTube screen capture.

Mark Ruffalo's The Hulk, from The Avengers. YouTube screen capture.

Brazilians head to the polls next Sunday, October 5, to elect their next president. Bizarrely, Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo, best known for portraying the Hulk in 2012 film “The Avengers,” might play an important role in the vote's outcome. 

Recent polls indicate that the Social-Democrat Brazilian Party (the country's most prominent right-wing party) won't have a candidate in the final running for the first time in several years. The election is expected to go to a run-off between Brazil's president, Dilma Roussef of the Workers’ Party, and Marina Silva, a prominent environmentalist and former member of Roussef's party, who is now on the Socialist Party's ticket.

Silva got her start in politics by working alongside union leader and activist Chico Mendes, fighting against the exploitation of the Amazon. In 2008, while serving as Brazil's environment minister, the Guardian declared Silva one of the 50 people who could save the world.

Ruffalo is also a prominent environmentalist activist. In a show of support for Silva, he recently recorded an endorsement on YouTube. The video went viral on the Brazilian Web.

In the video, published this week by Silva's campaign, Ruffalo says the Silva is “one of the most interesting and exciting politicians on the world stage today”. This Monday, however, he had a change of heart, formally withdrawing his support for Silva in a note on his Tumblr page. In the note, Ruffalo explains:

It has come to my attention that the Brazilian Candidate for President, Marina Silva, may be against gay marriage. That would put me in direct conflict with her. As you know I have fought for marriage equality in my country and see it as a reflection of the quality of a candidate. I did not know this was her stand on this issue when I made the video supporting her. I only saw her debate where she said she supported gay marriage and have come to find out after the fact that her party has pulled her support of this issue. I can not, in good conscience, support a candidate who takes a hard right approach to issues such as Gay Marriage and Reproductive rights even if that candidate is willing to do the right thing on environmental issues.

Marriage equality is a sensitive issue in Brazil's current presidential race. Only two candidates, Luciana Genro of the Socialist and Freedom Party and Eduardo Jorge of the Green Party, have openly supported samesex marriage. Dilma has indicated some weak support for the idea, but he's made no concrete promises. Silva, an evangelist who has the support of some of the richest pastors in Brazil, has had trouble navigating the issue.

Her campaign platform originally supported marriage equality as a future possibility, but Silva has stepped back from this position, following pressure from her religious supporters. Blaming her initial platform on a printing error, Silva now says she would only support civil unions for gays, which Brazil already recognizes.

Silva's campaign team has reached out to Ruffalo on Twitter, trying to disabuse him on the idea that she opposes gay marriage:

Ruffalo recently portrayed Ned Weeks, a character based on gays rights activist Larry Kramer, in “The Normal Heart,” a film about the first cases of AIDS affecting the gay community in New York in the 1980s. Perhaps with this role in mind, Ruffalo wrote in his Tumblr retraction:

I have to apologize for not doing a better job of vetting this decision. I apologize if I have let anyone down or made them feel somehow I had done an about face on those issues that I clearly have made an effort to confront and fight.

Video of Ruffalo's endorsement, however, is still published on Marina Silva's official YouTube channel. 

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