Bob Vander Plaats

Potential Iowa Senate Candidate Vander Plaats Explains Christian Nationalist View Of Government

Bob Vander Plaats, the head of the social conservative group The Family Leader, will reportedly be deciding in the next few weeks whether to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Tom Harkin this year. While he hasn’t made a final decision yet, Vander Plaats is widely considered to be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination if he enters the race, and already seems to be selling himself as a candidate.

Progress Iowa shares a video of Vander Plaats speaking at The Family Leader’s annual “Life, Marriage & Family” rally yesterday, in which Vander Plaats lays out his Christian nationalist view of government. Speaking about recent court decisions in favor of marriage equality, Vander Plaats – who led the effort to oust three Iowa Supreme Court Justices who ruled for marriage equality in 2009 – claimed that “rogue justices” and President Obama (“who is in over his head”) have “forgotten” that the American government is actually an instrument of God.

“God institution (sic) government,” he said. “He has three institutions: He has the Church, he has the family, and he has government.” He went on to explain that “the purpose of government: to promote righteousness,” which he counts as following “God’s principles and precepts” on everything from economics to family policy to foreign affairs.

Vander Plaats frequently portrays the Constitution as an extension of the Bible, claiming that marriage equality is unconstitutional because it “goes against the law of nature’s God” and that the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision provoked a “constitutional crisis” by “going against the document that predates the Constitution.”

The remarks start about three minutes into the video.

I happen to believe the reason you will see a leader who is in over his head, why you will see a Congress with a nine percent approval rating, and why you see rogue justices taking authority that isn’t theirs to take, is that they have forgotten, many of them have forgotten who is the Lawgiver. That God institution (sic) government. He has three institutions: He has the Church, he has the family, and he has government. Where those three intersect, that is the focus of The Family Leader. That is where we focus our attention, we focus our crosshairs.

God instituted government. That’s why we have the founders who referenced in the Declaration of Independence, ‘the law of nature and the law of nature’s God.’ Because they knew when you start walking away from the law of nature and the law of nature’s God and you start implementing your own laws about what’s best for Bob, what’s best for Greg, what’s best for Tamara, what’s best for Nancy, you will have a train wreck. there has to be a higher standard. And that’s the standard that we try to achieve here at the Family Leader, we try to promote at the Family Leader. The purpose of government: to promote righteousness.

All you have to do is look at God’s principles and precepts. They are for our good and our benefit, not our harm and our destruction. You apply his principles and precepts to economics, then your economic house is in order. You apply his principles and precepts to marriage and the family, well marriage and family is in order. You apply his principles and precepts to foreign policy, and foreign policy is in order. So, when you’re looking for the solutions, where should we look? We should look up, and not to the sides, and definitely not to the poll of the day.

Vander Plaats: Marriage Equality Unconstitutional Because It's 'Against The Law of Nature'

Last year, Religious Right activist and possible 2014 Iowa Republican Senate candidate Bob Vander Plaats claimed that the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling had provoked a “constitutional crisis” because it defied “the law of nature and the law of nature’s God.”

In an interview on the Steve Deace show last week, Vander Plaats elaborated on this constitutional analysis, claiming that a Utah federal judge’s ruling legalizing marriage equality was wrong because same-sex marriage “goes against the law of nature” and therefore is “against the Constitution.”

Vander Plaats also encouraged Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to simply ignore the court’s ruling and issue an executive order staying the decision until it’s put to a popular vote. 

He warned guest host Jen Green that the Utah ruling was the first step on a slippery slope to tyranny, showing the need to put judges “in their place” as he did in Iowa in 2010.

Vander Plaats: First of all, Justice Shelby, there’s a lot of issues with his ruling. Number one is, you had the people of Utah already amend the Constitution to what marriage is. And you’re supposed to uphold the Constitution, not redefine the Constitution. So, that’s number one.

Two is, there is no research on it, there is no data on it. Why? Because it never existed before. So all there is is speculation. But what we know is it goes against the law of nature, and the law of nature’s God, which means, again, it’s against the Constitution.

My suggestion to Gov. Herbert: Don’t overcomplicate this. Don’t over-study this or analyze this. Lead on this. Issue an executive order from the governor’s office that places a stay on this judge’s decision until the people of Utah resolve this, either through the legislature – the people’s representatives – or through another vote, if you need to go through another vote. But you don’t allow an activist judge to have his way to inflict same-sex marriage on the entire state of Utah.

It is We the People who are the final arbitrators of this deal. They gave us the power of the king. The governor is the executor. He’s got the executive branch, he’s the one who gets to enforce or not enforce. By him staying silent, he’s really enforcing this judge’s opinion. That’s why he needs to step up and lead, and what I’d say, issue that executive order.

And for the Lead or Get Out of the Way members and audience, and especially those in Utah, what really has to concern you here is that if they will do this to the institution of marriage, they won’t even blink an eye when they take your private property, tell you how to educate your kids. If you really want to have tyranny, keep allowing activist judges to keep activism alive. You need to put them in their place. That’s what I’d encourage Gov. Herbert to do.

Green: You will be made to care.

Vander Plaats: You will be made to care. But Gov. Herbert could make that judge made to care. Just like in Iowa, we made the judges, that they should care about what they’re doing.

Vander Plaats: Gay Marriage, Utah Polygamy Ruling Will Lead To Parent-Child Marriage

Count Bob Vander Plaats among the Religious Right activists responding to a court decision decriminalizing polygamy in Utah by crowing that they “correctly” predicted that marriage equality victories would lead to legalized polygamous marriage.

Right Wing Leftovers - 11/27/13

  • Mike Huckabee will be ending his daily three hour radio program in early December.
  • The US is moving its Vatican embassy, so we can probably expect to hear lots of Religious Right leaders screaming about how this is more evidence of President Obama hates Christianity or something.
  • Peter LaBarbera says that no matter how widespread marriage equality becomes, "it has nothing to do with our Judeo-Christian tradition, so this is not marriage and we cannot pretend that this is marriage."
  • A conservative polling firm claims that "Christian conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats would become the Republican frontrunner were he to run for U.S. Senate."
  • Finally, FRC prays against the Nuclear Option: "Just as a wind from heaven prevailed against Cornwallis 232 years ago, may our God-fearing Senators be given winds of wisdom to navigate their way amid this new, even more hostile environment. May God protect us from judges who oppose what God calls right!"

Iowa Group Threatens Recall Campaign Against Judge In Abortion Rights Case

The Iowa Religious Right group that successfully campaigned to unseat three state supreme court justices who ruled in favor of marriage equality has set its sights on a new target: a judge who granted a stay in an influential abortion rights case.

The Family Leader, run by prominent conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats, gained national attention in 2010 when it ran a successful campaign, with plenty of funding from national Religious Right groups, to oust three state supreme court justices in retention elections after the court ruled unanimously to legalize marriage equality in the state. The group tried its luck against another justice last year, but the tide had turned enough that the judge held on to his seat.

Now, the group is taking aim at a District Judge Karen Romano, who ruled this week that Planned Parenthood could continue to use video conferencing to guide women through early-term abortions using abortion-inducing drugs – drugs that are widely considered safe to take at home during the early weeks of a pregnancy – while a ban on the practice is appealed. Planned Parenthood had challenged a ruling by the Iowa Board of Medicine banning telemedicine for chemical abortion,  but for no other medical practice. Judge Romano did not rule on the merits of the case.

Vander Plaats’ group issued a statement yesterday claiming that Judge Romano had “not learned a lesson” from the 2010 election and urged voters to remember the judge’s “activism” in her 2016 retention election.

The Family Leader’s Chuck Hurley told the Des Moines Register that his group is “open” to a recall campaign against Romano but hasn’t decided yet whether to go beyond the barely-veiled threats in its press release. Hurley did take the opportunity, however, to allege that Romano was biased because she was appointed by former Gov. Tom Vilsack who “notoriously and admittedly an activist who selects judges who support his liberal viewpoints.”

Romano said Wednesday afternoon that she was not shocked by the Family Leader’s statement.

“I think in the current climate, it doesn’t really surprise me,” she said in a brief interview.

She added, “I understand that the issue the case deals with is a volatile issue.” She said she couldn’t comment any further.

Chuck Hurley, the Family Leader’s vice president, said Wednesday that the group hasn’t decided whether to mount a recall campaign against Romano. “We are definitely discussing it and are open to it,” he said.

He added that he didn’t know much about Romano’s personal views, but he knows she was appointed in 2001 by former Gov. Tom Vilsack. Hurley said Vilsack, a Democrat, was “notoriously and admittedly an activist who selects judges who support his liberal viewpoints.”

UPDATE: The president of the Iowa State Bar Association has denounced Vander Plaats' move, calling it "political bullying," and the Des Moines Register spoke out against his "not-so-subtle" threat to Romano in an editorial

UPDATE 2: After telling the Register that his group would be "open" to launching a recall campaing against Romano, Hurley followed up with the paper and "clarified" that he in fact meant "we are not launching a campaign against Judge Romano nor do we have any plans to do so at this time. We were simply pointing out that it was this kind of judicial activism by Iowa judges that led to Iowans voting out three Iowa Supreme Court judges in 2010.” 

Right Wing Leftovers - 11/5/13

  • Liberty Counsel is representing parents who are challenging New Jersey's ban on "ex-gay" therapy for minors.
  • The Blaze debunks another right-wing myth, which means it is only a matter of time before Glenn Beck repeats this myth on the air.
  • Teaching yoga in schools is turning students into "religious guinea pigs" who are being subjected to "misguided religious experimentation" by the state.
  • Steve Deace says that if Hillary Clinton runs for president, she'll run a "personality-based campaign and not an issue-based campaign because the issues will not be in her favor."

Vander Plaats: DOMA Decision Provoked A 'Constitutional Crisis' Because It Defied the Bible

Leading Iowa religious right figures Bob Vander Plaats and Steve Deace got together on American Family Radio today to discuss potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates and how they can move them even further to the right, as they did in 2012.

Eventually, the discussion moved to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who provoked conservative ire when he said that the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act was appropriate and would help avert “a culture war.”

Deace said that Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in the case was actually “an anti-Christian polemic” that he would “expect to be reading…at Mother Jones.”

Vander Plaats agreed, saying that Kennedy had in fact provoked a “constitutional crisis” by “defying the law of nature and the law of nature’s God” and “going against the document that predates the Constitution.”

Globalizing Homophobia, Part 1: How The American Right Came to Embrace Russia’s Anti-Gay Crackdown

This is the first post in a four-part series exploring how American right-wing groups have supported Russia’s recent spate of anti-gay laws and its crackdown on LGBT citizens.

This summer, as part of a larger effort to channel political dissatisfaction by scapegoating minorities, the Russian government escalated its crackdown on the rights of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual citizens. President Vladimir Putin and his allies found support and guidance in their anti-gay efforts from a group eager for an opportunity to notch some victories in the battle against LGBT freedom and equality: the American right.

On June 11, the Russian Duma passed a law banning “propaganda” about homosexuality to minors, essentially a gag rule criminalizing any advocacy for LGBT equality. (Moscow had already instituted a 100-year ban on gay pride parades.) Weeks later, on July 3, Putin signed a bill banning the adoption of Russian children by same-sex couples abroad and by single people in countries that allow marriage equality. Shortly afterward, a member of the Duma proposed a law that would revoke gay people’s custody of their biological children. The bill’s sponsor said in an interview that children would be better off in orphanages than with a gay mother or father.

Throughout this process, Russian gay rights groups reported a surge in anti-gay hate crimes. Journalist Julia Ioffe has documented some individual stories.

Russia’s crackdown on LGBT people comes amidst a broad crackdown on the rights of minorities and political dissenters or, in the words of one lawmaker, a campaign “to defend the rights of the majority.” On the same day the Duma passed its ban on gay “propaganda,” it also approved a harsh anti-blasphemy law promising jail time for “offending religious feelings.” The blasphemy measure was meant to strenghthen the laws that led to the political prosecution of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot, whose members were sentenced to two years in a penal colony for a performance that was deemed to offend “religious sensibilities.”

Russia’s repression of LGBT people and the Pussy Riot case have provoked an international outcry, intensified by the  the country’s role as the host of next year’s winter Olympics.

But throughout all this, one group has cheered on Putin’s actions: the American Religious Right and its international allies.

Even as tensions have grown between Russia and the United States, several Religious Right leaders have spoken loudly in favor of Putin’s crackdowns on gay people and political dissenters:

  • Conservative commentator and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan praised Putin for “trying to re-establish the Orthodox Church as the moral compass of the nation” by going after gays and political dissent and suggested that the United States follow his lead.
  • The anti-feminist group Concerned Women for America hailed the Pussy Riot prosecution, saying that the band displayed an “utter lack of morality.”
  • Religious Right activist Bob Vander Plaats, whose Family Leader events in Iowa have become must-attends for Republican presidential candidates, praised Putin’s “decisive leadership” on anti-gay laws.
  • American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer declared that Russia’s gay “propaganda” ban was exactly the kind of “public policy that we’ve been advocating” and that, if anything, the ban didn’t go far enough.
  • Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality praised the propaganda law, writing, “Russians do not want to follow America’s reckless and decadent promotion of gender confusion, sexual perversion, and anti-biblical ideologies to youth.”
  • Scott Lively, an American activist linked to Uganda’s push for the death penalty for gays, wrote that under Putin’s leadership, Russia has become a “beacon of freedom” while the U.S. has descended into a “gay version of the Soviet Union.” Lively also gave himself credit for “indirectly” assisting the ban on “homosexual propaganda,” calling it “one of the proudest achievements of my career.”
  • Vision America’s Rick Scarborough suggested that God would rebuke President Obama over his condemnation of Russia’s anti-gay crackdown, saying that Obama’s criticism of the propaganda law “puts our country in a very precarious place.”
  • Radio host Linda Harvey, head of the group Mission: America, praised the gay “propaganda” ban, declaring that any “responsible adult” would support it.
  • Rush Limbaugh praised Putin for “putting [his] foot down” against gay peoples’ “full-frontal assault on what has always been considered normalcy.”
  • Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) called the Russian law a “good thing” and claimed that “most of the people in the United States” would support a similar measure.
  • Larry Jacobs of the Illinois-based World Congress of Families hailed the propaganda law for “preventing [LGBT people] from corrupting children" and declared  that "the Russians might be the Christian saviors to the world."
  • Six American Religious Right groups, including the World Congress of FamiliesMission: America and C-FAM , joined an international coalition of right-wing groups in signing a statement supporting the anti-gay crackdown and condemning the international outrage against it.

American conservative groups haven’t just praised Russia’s crackdown on gays. Working through several channels, American anti-gay activists quietly provided intellectual backing and international support that directly and indirectly fueled the resurgent anti-gay movement in Russia and in other former Soviet states like Lithuania, Moldova and Ukraine.

In a series of posts today and tomorrow, we’ll look at how American activists influenced Russia’s anti-gay laws by funding anti-gay activism in Russia, testifying before the Duma, providing false research to fan the flames of anti-gay laws abroad, and building an international movement to back the harshest anti-gay laws around the world.

Right Wing Round-Up - 9/16/13

Bob Vander Plaats Praises Russia's Ban On Pro-Gay Rights Speech

One of the chief players in Republican politics in Iowa yesterday praised Russian president Vladimir Putin for his role in criminalizing speech supportive of gay rights as part of a larger crackdown on the country’s LGBT community. Bob Vander Plaats, head of the group The Family Leader and recent host of a summit with likely presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum, defended the ban in an interview with conservative talk show host Steve Deace.

While speaking about the crisis in Syria, Vander Plaats commended Putin for appropriating American “strengths” like “military might, decisive action, core values, morality, beliefs,” which have now “defaulted into our weaknesses because of Barack Obama.”

Vander Plaats praised Putin for taking a stand and saying “don’t bring this homosexual propaganda into my country for the Olympics; we believe in one man, one woman marriage; there is no homosexual marriage in Russia.”

Deace interjected that Putin shouldn’t be deemed a hero of thepro-familymovement since he recently divorced his wife, Vander Plaats but said “it doesn’t matter.”

Vander Plaats: He has taken what used to be our strengths — military might, decisive action, core values, morality, beliefs — and he’s saying, those are being turned into your guys’ weakness and guess what I’m doing? I’m taking those. I’m taking decisive leadership, you’re following my lead. As a matter of fact, Obama’s now agreeing with Putin, ‘oh you know maybe we’ve got some other options here now.’ So he’s taking Putin’s lead. Putin’s saying, ‘you know what don’t bring this homosexual propaganda into my country for the Olympics; we believe in one man, one woman marriage; there is no homosexual marriage in Russia.’

Deace: Says the guy that just kicked his wife of four decades to the curb.

Vander Plaats: It doesn’t matter. He’s taken what used to be our strengths, which has now defaulted into our weaknesses because of Barack Obama, no leadership, and he’s making them his strengths and he’s emerging now on the world stage as a newly discovered leader. Ladies and gentlemen this is why you need to rise up, this is why we rise up, to demonstrate, we do have a voice in this process.

Of course for gay people and gay rights advocates in Russia, they will no longer have a voice in the already-undemocratic state.

New GOP Same As the Old GOP: Iowa Summit to Feature Republican Leaders and Religious Right Stalwarts

Year after year we keep hearing about the supposed decline of the Religious Right and the GOP’s shift away from the fringes. Despite all of that talk and speculation, this weekend will see this year’s second Religious Right gathering for potential presidential candidates, almost three years before the Iowa caucus. For anyone who anticipates that Republican presidential candidates will move towards the center in 2016, this weekend’s festivities are a very loud wakeup call.

The upcoming Family Leadership Summit comes on the heels of last month’s Iowa Pastors and Pews meeting, which hosted Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Ted Cruz and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

This weekend’s conference, hosted by the Religious Right group The Family Leader, will feature Cruz, former Sen. Rick Santorum and perennial presidential candidate-vacillator Donald Trump.

Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader, a former Republican gubernatorial candidate who spearheaded the 2010 campaign to boot pro-marriage equality justices off the Iowa Supreme Court, is hosting the event. The Family Leader continues its push to become a conservative power player: Last year, the organization hosted a debate attended by every Republican presidential candidate save Mitt Romney and tried to get candidates to pledge to fight legal pornography and to agree that African-American families were better off under slavery. In 2016, the group might take over the reins of the Iowa Straw Poll.

Along with Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad and Sen. Chuck Grassley, several far-right figures are slated to speak at the summit:

Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who recently claimed that most young undocumented immigrants are drug mules with “calves the size of cantaloupes.”

Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller, the far-right 2010 GOP Senate nominee who has tiestomilitia groups.

Talk show host Steve Deace, who has fantasized about assaulting openly gay NBA player Jason Collins and suggested that the public school system was responsible for the Newtown massacre.

Talk show host Kevin McCullough, who believes that gay people are out to kill him and hate God (but also don’t exist).

Talk show host Jan Mickelson, who has said that AIDS is divine punishment for homosexuality and hailed former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s opposition to gay rights.

Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, who has likened his campaign against marriage equality to fights against slavery and Jim Crow.

David Bossie of Citizens United, the Clinton-era witch hunter who predicted that the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would cripple the military and bring back the draft.

Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, who argued that the Violence Against Women Act represented a “war on women” and accused Planned Parenthood of supporting domestic abuse.

Actor/Reality Show contestant Stephen Baldwin, who called President Obama a “cultural terrorist.”

Dr. Del Tackett of Truth In Action Ministries, who blamed homosexuality on lazy parenting.

Doug Napier of Alliance Defending Freedom, who pledged to represent county officials in Iowa who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Dr. David Noebel of Summit Ministries, who has warned that “Obama and his radical homosexual mafia plan to sodomize the world and make such perversion seem as wholesome as apple pie and vanilla ice cream.”

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.”
 

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