Bob Vander Plaats

Iowa Religious Right Leader Defends Trump, Praises His Birther Crusade

Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Iowa-based Religious Right group The Family Leader, spoke with conservative Des Moines radio host Jan Mickelson last week to defend his invitation of twice-divorced casino magnate Donald Trump to speak at the group’s upcoming Family Leadership Summit. (The event is also sponsored by the Heritage Foundation’s advocacy arm and the National Organization for Marriage.) After all, Vander Plaats is the same man who tried to get Republican presidential candidates to sign a pledge swearing personal fidelity to their spouses and vowing to make it tougher to get a divorce.

But Vander Plaats insisted that “we’re not lowering our standards by bringing in Donald Trump. Donald Trump is coming up to our standards.” Vander Plaats went on to praise Trump for “being bold and saying some stuff that others just don’t want to say” including his insistence that President Obama “prove to us that you were born here.”

Vander Plaats was previously caught on video during the Republican presidential primary praising Trump’s birther efforts.

Vander Plaats: Trump has made no, I mean, he’s basically said he’s very interested in running for president. Part of our job is to vet. And we’re not lowering our standards by bringing in Donald Trump. Donald Trump is coming up to our standards. And so what we’re saying is, hey, if he wants to have a microphone and to speak to our audience, let’s see what he’s got to say. And I guarantee you….

Mickelson: You are going to have a dump button, aren’t you?

Vander Plaats: I will definitely. If Donald Trump says things that we just definitely don’t agree with, I will speak after him, and I will basically…

Mickelson: You will fire him.

Vander Plaats: You are fired! But he’s an intriguing fellow, and he’s been on the money with regards to international trade and our relationship with China, how that impacts the family. You remember just over the year ago, people were basically applauding Trump because at least he was being bold and saying some stuff that others just didn’t want to say. And even the deal of Obama’s birth certificate, whether people think that was ridiculous or not, at least he said, ‘Prove to us that you were born here.’

Right Wing Leftovers - 5/28/13

  • Bob Vander Plaats is giddy about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s potential run for president.
  • Rick Santorum endorsed American Spectator editor Quin Hillyer’s campaign for Congress. 
  • The Creation Museum is introducing an exhibit on how stories about dragons prove that humans lived with dinosaurs. 
  • Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar will be keynoting Janet Porter’s latest fundraiser.
  • Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler is defending a pastor who was charged with covering up sexual abuse.
  • Townhall’s John Hawkins has come up with the “10 Musicians Who Should Be Blacklisted By Conservatives.”

Vander Plaats Explains Opposition to Marriage Equality: 'It's Awful'

KSFY in Sioux Falls took on the debate about legalizing same-sex marriage in South Dakota yesterday by airing a report on how Iowans are faring under that state’s four-year-old marriage equality law. The station, in an attempt to hear both sides of the issue, interviewed an Iowa married couple, John Sellers and Tom Helten, and the state’s leading anti-gay activist, Bob Vander Plaats, who is trying to get the law overturned.

Which led to this segment, in which Sellers and Helten explain how they go to church, argue about bills and care for each other’s parents, followed by Vander Plaats explaining that he opposes marriage equality because, “If you do things God’s way when it comes to marriage, things work out really good. When you go against His plan, it’s awful.”

Bob Vander Plaats Really Should Stop Talking About Slavery

Two years ago, the Iowa Religious Right group The Family Leader caused a bit of a stir when it convinced Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann to sign a “marriage pledge” that, among other questionable provisions, stated that African-American families were better off under slavery than they are today.

Just a few months later, all the major Republican presidential candidates save Mitt Romney participated in a “Thanksgiving Family Forum” hosted by the group.

And apparently the Family Leader’s president Bob Vander Plaats hasn’t learned much from the “marriage pledge” episode. In an interview today with Business Week about Sen. Rand Paul’s chances with social conservatives, Vander Plaats says Paul’s “leave it to the states” position on marriage equality is unacceptable because gay marriage, like slavery, is something “you don’t leave up to the states.”

Vander Plaats said Iowans may tolerate Paul’s comments on abortion exceptions because he’s also authored a bill that would define life as beginning at conception. His views on same-sex marriage are another matter.

“We are definitely going to have visits with Rand on some of those things,” said Vander Plaats, who disagrees with Paul’s view that the legal status of same-sex marriage, like drug crimes, should be left up to the states.

“You don’t leave slavery up to the states, nor should you,” said Vander Plaats. “It’s either right or it’s wrong.”

Vander Plaats 'Not Here to Judge' Openly Gay State Senator Who Might Not Be 'Practicing Gay'

WHO-TV in Des Moines featured a debate last week between openly gay Iowa State Senator Matt McCoy and anti-gay activist Bob Vander Plaats.

Both were fairly restrained, despite the best efforts of the moderator, who at one point asked Vander Plaats if McCoy, who lives in Des Moines with his partner, is “living a life that is not approved by God, in your mind?”

Vander Plaats responded that he was “not here to judge Sen. McCoy” because the senator might be like “some people that say, ‘Well, I’m gay, but I’m not practicing gay.'"

Later on, the conversation turned to the future of marriage equality. Vander Plaats brought up a question that Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked during oral arguments on the Prop 8 case, in which she prompted attorney Ted Olson to take down the right’s “slippery slope” argument that gay marriage will lead to legalized polygamy and incest. This question, Vander Plaats alleges, actually indicates that Justice Sotomayor would be ready to give legal backing to polygamists and “a dad who wants to marry his son or daughter.”

Vander Plaats added that, despite polls showing steadily increasing support for marriage equality, he believed that there would be a “reverse” of marriage equality “probably in our lifetime or in somebody else’s lifetime.”

 

 

Iowa Republicans Threaten to Cut Salaries of Judges Who Backed Marriage Equality

Iowa Republicans are determined to remove the nine state supreme court justices who ruled unanimously in 2009 to allow same-sex marriage in the state, and they'll try just about anything. In 2010, anti-gay groups funded a successful campaign to oust three justices in retention elections. Then Iowa anti-gay leader Bob Vander Plaats called for the remaining justices to resign. When that didn't work, state Republicans then tried to impeach them. Last year, an effort to remove a fourth justice failed at the ballot box. So now Iowa Republicans are trying a different strategy, proposing to dramatically lower the salaries of the remaining judges who were involved in the marriage equality decision. The Iowa City Gazette reports:

A handful of House conservatives want to reduce the pay of Iowa Supreme Court justices involved in a 2009 decision striking down a ban on same-sex marriages as part of an effort to maintain the balance of power in state government.

“It’s our responsibility to maintain the balance of power” between the three co-equal branches of government, Rep. Tom Shaw, R-Laurens, said Tuesday.

The justices “trashed the separation of powers” with their unanimous Varnum v. Brien decision and implementation of same-sex marriage without a change in state law banning any marriages expect between one man and one woman, added Rep. Dwayne Alons, R-Hull.

Their amendment to House File 120, the judicial branch budget bill, would lower the salaries of the four justices on the seven-member court who were part of the unanimous Varnum v. Brein decision to $25,000 – the same as a state legislator.

It’s not meant to be punitive, Alons and Shaw said Tuesday.
“We’re just holding them responsible for their decision, for going beyond their bounds,” Shaw said.

“It’s not the merits of what they said in that decision,” added Alons. He’s trying to stop “an encroaching wave” of judicial activity including decisions on nude dancing and landowner liability – decisions the Legislature also is trying to correct through legislation this session.

The chairman of the state Senate Judiciary Committee tells Gazette “that a plan to pay justices differently based on their role in one case would be unlikely to withstand a court challenge.”

Deace on O'Reilly's Marriage Remarks: 'That Is a Hanging Offense'

Conservative talk show host Steve Deace is not happy with Bill O’Reilly’s seeming reversal on marriage equality, telling Religious Right activist Bob Vander Plaats that O’Reilly is “betraying” his own viewers and is essentially a “charlatan” and a “fraud.”

While discussing the Supreme Court’s handling of the marriage cases with Vander Plaats, who warned that the court could “set off a constitutional crisis,” Deace said that O’Reilly is a traitor to his conservative base: “you stab them in the back, throw them under the bus and use the enemy’s own language against them. To me that’s a hanging offense; that is a hanging offense.”

Vander Plaats: If you usurp the will of the people—we saw it in Iowa, you usurp the will of the people, three justices get removed, there’s a credibility gap with the three justices that continue to serve— if you usurp the vote of the people of California you will set off a constitutional crisis against these United States and it should be a constitutional crisis. People like you and me and others, we’d help do our part to set off a constitutional crisis if that is in fact what they came back with.

Deace: I’ve got a bee in my bonnet big time and it’s Bill O’Reilly at Fox News. I don’t like charlatans, I don’t like frauds; give me Rachel Maddow, at least she’s honest. But when you are trying to profit off of the very people you are betraying and you have tried to condescend them and patronize them for years and then at the moment they probably need you to return the favor of all the money they made you over the last fifteen years the most, you stab them in the back, throw them under the bus and use the enemy’s own language against them. To me that’s a hanging offense; that is a hanging offense.

Deace said there are no good arguments for same-sex marriage, and gay rights activists are just throwing “a hissy-fit.” He even said it is pointless to note that homosexuality is found in other species besides humans since “there’s also the licking of one’s own genitals, the flinging of one’s own feces and the eating of live prey and then puking it up to feed your offspring in nature too.”   

With this issue there are no good arguments for it because the argument essentially boils down to, ‘because I want it.’ It’s essentially a tantrum; it’s policy by desire. ‘Because I want it.’ It’s a child throwing a hissy-fit, tantrum in Wal-Mart because mom bought me the regular sized M&Ms and not the king-sized that I demanded. As Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation pointed out on CNN this week that just drove the reporter into a meltdown, ‘no one is in jail for having consensual homosexual sex with another adult, what you’re trying to do is impose your narrow definition of what this means and therefore what it means for free speech and religious liberty on everybody else.’ So they throw out all these clichés and they are so easy to debunk. One of my favorites is, ‘well there’s homosexuality in nature.’ There’s also the licking of one’s own genitals, the flinging of one’s own feces and the eating of live prey and then puking it up to feed your offspring in nature too.

NOM's 'Historic' Fail

For weeks, the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown has been touting the “historic” March for Marriage, telling supporters “this is our time” to "change history." A month ago he wrote excitedly about a “game-changer,” a $500,000 matching gift from one of the major donors that keep NOM afloat. Brown had been inspired by a massive turnout for an anti-marriage-equality protest  in France, and hoped for something similar in Washington. But even with big donors and heavy-weight Religious Right co-sponsors, Brown and his allies couldn’t pull it off. Not even close.

In reality, NOM’s rally had a few, perhaps several, thousand attendees.  (NOM’s Thomas Peters claims 15,000, which seems, um, generous.) And every time one of the speakers tried to make the crowd feel like part of a larger movement by talking about the 200,000 people they said marched recently for one-man/one-woman marriage in Puerto Rico, or the hundreds of thousands or millions in France and Spain, or even the 585,000 who have signed the Manhattan Declaration or the half million who marched against legal abortion, it only served to highlight how few bothered to show up in Washington. According to various speakers, the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia sent five busloads; anti-gay state senator Ruben Diaz claimed 32 buses from New York. Brian Brown gave a shout out to some Chinese Christians from Chicago.

The ethnically diverse speakers’ list was a mix of old and new, including some familiar faces on the anti-gay circuit, such as Harry Jackson, Gary Bauer, and Iowa’s Bob Vander Plaats. Harry Jackson led the crowd in a chant that he said was a prayer for the Supreme Court: “Let God arise and his enemies be scattered.” Bauer delivered a blustery message to the Republican Party that if they “bail” on marriage, he’ll lead as many people as he can out of the GOP (which may not be that much of a threat). Vander Plaats urged Supreme Court justices to look to the Founding Fathers, Billy Graham, and Pope Francis. Also speaking were Doug Mainwaring, now making the circuit as the anti-equality gay man the Religious Right loves to love; Frank Schubert, the mastermind of the dishonest Prop 8 campaign and every anti-equality campaign since then; and Jim Garlow, who made a name for himself among the Religious Right with his pro-Prop 8 organizing. Garlow insisted you cannot call yourself a Christian and support the Court’s “obliterating” what he called a “core aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (Garlow should have seen the packed crowd at the morning’s pro-equality interfaith service at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation.) Garlow warned Supreme Court justices that they will one day stand before “the Chief Justice of the Universe” and will be held accountable if they defy His ways.

A couple of groups sent under-30 speakers to say how wrong the media is to suggest that Millennials are a lost cause on this issue.  But facts are facts, and polls show that support for marriage equality is overwhelming among under-30 Americans: 72 percent of Millennials believe same-sex couples should be able to get legally married, including 58 percent of under-30 Republicans.

Many of the speakers were on-message to the point of being boringly redundant, repeating the message on marchers’ pre-printed signs: “Kids do best with a mom and a dad” and “Every child deserves a mom and a dad.” Sometimes this came with a strong shot of gender stereotypes: mothers provide tenderness and fathers provide protection.  Brian Brown even showed a video of the Religious Right’s newest heroine, the 11-year old who testified against marriage equality in Minnesota and asked which of her parents she did not need, her mother or father. Perhaps someone could explain that no same-sex couples seeking to get married have any desire to force her to get rid of either parent.

NOM’s backers for the marriage march included the far-far-right-wing Catholic group Tradition, Family & Property, with its scarlet banners, capes, and marching band (see Adele Stan’s reminder who TFP is), Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, a couple of Catholic dioceses, the Knights of Columbus and the Institute on Religion and Democracy.  Brown gave special thanks to the Mormon-run GFC Foundation for providing grants for buses.

 

NOM’s Brown Claims Gay Rights Advocates Want to Take Away Opponents’ Right to Vote

National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown joined Iowa anti-gay luminary Bob Vander Plaats at a Des Moines rally today to call for a ballot referendum to overturn the state’s marriage equality law. Following Vander Plaats, who compared same-sex marriage to polygamy and incest, Brown argued that making the civil rights of a minority subject to a popular vote is in fact right in line with the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s marriage equality proponents, Brown argued, who are trying to “deprive” their opponents of civil rights– specifically “the right to vote":

Opposition to gay marriage is not rooted in fear and hate as supporters suggest, Vander Plaats said, but rather love and religious truth. He also lashed out at the notion of “marriage equality” as a slippery slope toward no restrictions on relationships whatsoever.

“If we want marriage equality, let’s just stop for a second. Why stop at same-sex marriage? Why not have polygamy? Why not have a dad marry his son or marry his daughter? If we’re going to have marriage equality, let’s open this puppy up and let’s have marriage equality,” he said. “Otherwise, let’s stick to the way God designed it – one man and one woman, period.”

Referring to Senate Democrats’ refusal to advance the amendment and clear the way for a statewide vote, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown invoked Martin Luther King, Jr., to suggest that it was the opponents of same-sex marriage whose civil rights were threatened.

“We hear that this is about civil rights, and that those of us who oppose the redefinition of marriage are somehow bigots,” Brown said. “And yet, what Dr. Martin Luther King called the most important civil right – the right to vote – these very same folks are trying to deprive us of this right.”
 

While Santorum wins Religious Right Support, No Signs of 'Strong Consensus'

Did social conservative leaders come together and jointly endorse Rick Santorum at the Texas retreat over the weekend? That is the way Family Research Council president Tony Perkins and many in the media interpreted the meeting of leading Religious Right luminaries, where on the second ballot Santorum led Gingrich 70 to 49, and on the third ballot 85 to 29. Perkins claimed there was a “strong consensus” behind Santorum, who has won the backing of Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Young Nance, former National Organization for Marriage president Maggie Gallagher, American Values president Gary Bauer and the expected endorsement of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.

But have Religious Right leaders really coalesced around Santorum?

Gingrich has locked in the support of prominent social conservative leaders: Concerned Women for America founder and chairman Beverly LaHaye; Council for National Policy founder and author Tim LaHaye; American Family Association founder and chairman Don Wildmon; Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver; California pastor and Proposition 8 organizer Jim Garlow; evangelical pollster George Barna; Restoration Project organizer David Lane and pastor and former congressman J.C. Watts.

Gingrich supporters have even claimed that the third ballot, which showed Santorum winning handling, occurred after many leaders left the meeting and that some Santorum boosters were involved with “ballot-box stuffing.” Bob Vander Plaats, an early Santorum endorser, told Bryan Fischer on Focal Point that the Texas gathering only showed “divided support” between Santorum and Gingrich, and Red State’s Erick Erickson, who attended the meeting, said that “it was divided with many thinking Gingrich is the only one who can win.”

The real loser of the meeting was Texas Governor Rick Perry, who won just three votes in the first ballot. Major Religious Right leaders gathered in Texas last summer where they urged Perry to run for president. Dobson, Perkins, Garlow, Nance and other Religious Right figures all appeared with Perry at his The Response prayer rally and after Perry announced his candidacy, he courted a group of social conservative activists including Perkins, Dobson, Garlow at the Texas ranch of mega-donor James Leininger. John Stemberger, the head of the Florida Family Policy Council who was a Perry campaign chairman, has now even switched his support from Perry to Santorum.

While it remains to be seen if social conservatives will really “coalesce” behind Santorum, it is clear that the Religious Right leadership that begged Perry to enter the race has now utterly abandoned him.

Bauer Endorses Santorum while other Religious Right Leaders Wait and See

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council told the Washington Times that he doubted Religious Right leaders can unite behind a Republican candidate, despite pleas from activists like Bob Vander Plaats for leaders to “cancel” their Texas retreat and “rearrange their plans to get to South Carolina, Florida, wherever they can help Santorum.” In 2008, many Religious Right figures were divided over whom to support and only coalesced behind Mike Huckabee’s candidacy when John McCain’s nomination became inevitable.

Now, it appears that they are likely to repeat that mistake this year:

The goal is to see if what occurred in 2008 can be avoided in 2012. Keep conservatives from being fractured and allowing a non-conservative to capture the nomination only to lose the general election,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian think-tank.

“Will they coalesce around one candidate?” Mr. Perkins said. “It is possible, but not probable.”



“That coalescence is not going to happen before South Carolina, and since these early primaries are not winner-take-all, as in the past, we have time,” Mr. Perkins said.

He said he gleaned from the conference call a sense that clarity on the issue may not come until after the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary or even the Jan. 31 Florida primary.

Some expressed doubts that Mr. Santorum’s post-Iowa caucuses boost has any shelf life of more than a few weeks. And they do not want to go on the record endorsing a falling star.

Gary Bauer, who led the FRC from 1988-1999 before leaving his post to run for President, however, endorsed Santorum in South Carolina. Now as leader of American Values and the Campaign for Working Families, Bauer says only Santorum can end “the nightmare of the Obama era”:

"He's the guy that most reflects the Reagan personification of republicanism, that is lower taxes, smaller government, strong national defense, pro-life, pro-family. but more importantly those values are also whats best for America and ending the nightmare of the Obama era."

Bauer was also courted by the Romney campaign but has had a long relationship with Santorum. Bauer told me that he decided to endorse because there's a real sense of frustration at the grassroots level that evangelical leaders aren't stepping up and speaking up for candidates. Bauer decided to change that.

He endorsed John McCain in 2008 during the South Carolina Primary and there is some statistical analysis that showed his endorsement helped McCain by about five percent in the polls. McCain won South Carolina by three percentage points over Mike Huckabee.

Bauer emailed CWF members today explaining his endorsement:

My intention had been to avoid an endorsement this cycle. But in recent days it has become obvious that conservative voters are deeply divided about who should carry the banner for our values into the 2012 election. I have been receiving an increasing number of questions from our grassroots supporters around the country seeking guidance on which candidate they should support. I feel it is imperative that I take the lead now.

As you know, I believe virtually all of these candidates are men who would be fantastic presidents. My endorsement of Rick Santorum is in no way meant to be critical of the others. But I believe Santorum can best articulate the Reagan conservatism that has defined my political life and holds the best hope for the future our children and grandchildren will inherit. Rick Santorum is unambiguously pro-life and pro-family.

The election of our next president in 2012 will be the most important election of my generation. Campaign for Working Families will continue to build a war chest to ensure our values prevail in November. I believe the candidate best able to do that is Rick Santorum. But let me assure you that we will deploy our resources for whoever is selected as the nominee.

Bob Vander Plaats Endorses Rick Santorum, 'The Huckabee in this Race'

Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader, who led Mike Huckabee’s victorious Iowa campaign in 2008, endorsed Rick Santorum for president today. Chuck Hurley of the Iowa Family Policy Center also endorsed Santorum. Speaking as an individual and not on behalf of his organization, Vander Plaats lauded Santorum as the “Huckabee in this race” and a “champion of the family.” Echoing Huckabee, who frequently reminded Religious Right voters, “I come from you,” Vander Plaats concluded, “I believe Rick Santorum comes from us, he’s not to us, he comes from us, he’s one of us.”

Watch:

The Family Leader Wants a Winner, While Bachmann Pushes for Religious Right Support

After narrowing their decision to four candidates in the Republican field, The Family Leader is set to announce their endorsement on Monday…or their decision not to endorse at all. With the caucus less than a month away, Bob Vander Plaats claims that their desired candidate must not only be conservative but must also have the strength to defeat Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination and ultimately President Obama. While Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry have all signed The Family Leader’s pledge, Newt Gingrich recently penned a letter committing to their right-wing agenda and pledging faithfulness to his third wife. The conservative Iowa Republican reports:

Bob Vander Plaats and his Family Leader organization plan to make a decision on whether or not to make an endorsement, and whom they might endorse, by next Monday. The group’s backing is one of the most sought after in the GOP presidential race, especially in Iowa.



“That’s going be a great question, because if you read the pledge that he wrote and submitted, there’s a lot of our verbiage in there,” Vander Plaats said. “He takes some strong stances on life, marriage and religious freedom. As we read it, we wondered why he didn’t sign the pledge, but he did almost everything we talked about and used a similar language.”



Vander Plaats says he is looking for an “authentic conservative”, but adds that viability is one of the issues The Family Leader will consider when picking their candidate. “If you’re going to beat Obama, then you also have to beat Romney to get the nomination,” The Family Leader CEO said. “If we were to endorse on what we’re looking for, we’re looking for a very conservative principled, but we’re also looking for someone who can win.”

While Vander Plaats may be concerned about electability, the campaign of the very-unelectable Michele Bachmann organized a group of the state’s Religious Right leaders, including Danny Carroll of The Family Leader, to promote her struggling campaign:

A group of conservative Christian faith leaders are hitting the road to urge conservatives to caucus for Michele Bachmann – not the race’s frontrunner, Newt Gingrich.

 

“Frankly, we’re looking to shake things up a little bit,” former Iowa Rep. Danny Carroll, a conservative Republican from Grinnell, told reporters at a news conference at the Iowa Capitol this morning.

The pastors delicately made it clear that they don’t think Gingrich is the best choice for president. Nor is Rick Santorum, a religious conservative who has been courting the evangelical vote in Iowa.

“(Gingrich) is tremendous in debates,” said Brad Sherman, an evangelical Christian minister with Solid Rock Christian Church in Coralville. “Part of me wants to say I’d love to see him debate Obama because I think he would chew him up. But I have to live by principle – and Michele Bachmann has proved it.”



Carroll said during the news conference: “We have determined that Michele Bachmann is Biblically-qualified to be the president, to be a leader. She is capable. She is trustworthy. She fears God and she hates dishonest gain.”

Iowans should to go to the caucuses on Jan. 3 “unless you support someone other than Michele Bachmann. Then you should take the night off,” he said.

Carroll and various faith leaders are embarking on an eight-city tour of Iowa – Oskaloosa, Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Mason City, Council Bluffs and Sioux City – to call on Christians “to be informed.”
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