Who Is The FAMiLY LEADER?
Much of the news around the 2012 Republican primary over the past few days has been driven by a highly controversial pledge offered by a radical conservative group in Iowa, the The FAMiLY LEADER (the lowercase “i” represents individual submission before God). Here’s what you need to know about the group and its leader, Bob Vander Plaats.
WHO: Bob Vander Plaats is a thrice-failed Iowa gubernatorial candidate who successfully led a campaign last year to oust three of the nine Iowa Supreme Court justices who backed a unanimous decision in favor of marriage equality. Vander Plaats then took over leadership of the FAMiLY LEADER and is now positioning himself as the 2012 Iowa caucus kingmaker, having led Mike Huckabee’s successful 2008 caucus campaign. More recently, Vander Plaats has also tried to position himself as a Tea Party leader.
Other fast facts on Vander Plaats:
WHAT: The FAMiLY LEADER, a Christian conservative group with radical anti-gay, anti-Muslim, and other extreme views.
WHERE: The group and its affiliated organizations are based just outside Des Moines, Iowa.
WHY THEY MATTER: Social conservatives dominate the GOP base in Iowa, and Vander Plaats is angling to be the gatekeeper for those voters.
The FAMiLY LEADER has been hosting a presidential lecture series for the past several months, with each candidate coming to Iowa in turn and traveling the state with Vander Plaats to speak to conservative audiences. The candidates who participated in these events were Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich.
The group will host its own presidential debate in November, after which Vander Plaats will make his endorsement.
WHAT IS IN THEIR PLEDGE: Last week, the FAMiLY LEADER unveiled an extremely controversial 14-point “Marriage Vow” pledge that any candidate who wants to be endorsed by the group must sign. Here are its key elements (more details can be found here):
Black children born into slavery were better off than black children born today (The group deleted this “misconstrued” provision after massive public outcry.)
- Personality fidelity to his/her spouse
- Married people have better sex and lead healthier lives
- Homosexuality is a choice
- Homosexuality is a public health threat
- Homosexuality is like polygamy, adultery, and polyandry
- Porn should be banned
- “Sharia Islam” must be rejected
- Must uphold the Defense of Marriage Act and refuse to define marriage as anything other than one man, one woman
- Appoint strict constitutionalists as judges
- Shrink the size of government
WHO HAS SIGNED THE PLEDGE: Bachmann and Santorum almost immediately signed the pledge (including its offensive pro-slavery provision); Jon Huntsman declined on the grounds that he does not sign any pledges; thrice-married Gingrich declined to sign during an appearance yesterday with Vander Plaats, citing the need for unspecified “across the board” changes to the pledge; and Gary Johnson attacked it as discriminatory and “un-Republican.” Others have until Aug. 1 to respond.
WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT THE GOP: Its Christian conservative base has become extreme, out-of-touch, and fixated on things of little concern to most Americans.
WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT THE 2012 CANDIDATES: Most of them are willing be to directly associated with extreme, highly-offensive views in order to win over the most conservative segment of the GOP base during the primary.
Evening Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed
Should China hire away all of the NBA’s locked out players?
The Southern Poverty Law Center recently labeled Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and other lawmakers “extremist.”
Elon James White and the ACLU want you to Just Say No to the War on Drugs.
Evidence is mounting that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation phone hacking practices may have violated U.S. law. Tell the Department of Justice to investigate the media mogul now.
Voters are becoming increasingly concerned over Congress’s failure to raise the debt ceiling.
Al Gore unveils a new event to combat climate deniers: We have reality on our side.
“You are the renegade here,” bona fide conservative pundit Bill O’Reilly told Michele Bachmann in response to her adamant refusal to raise the debt ceiling, despite warnings from economists failing to do so would lead to a financial catastrophe.
President Obama said he “cannot guarantee” Social Security checks would go out Aug. 3 if Republicans and Democrats fail to reach a compromise on the debt ceiling.
Human Rights Watch released a statement saying it had enough evidence to prosecute President Bush, Vice President Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and former CIA director George Tenet for “serious violations of U.S. and international law.”
2012 WATCH: Hidden Camera Investigation Into Bachmann’s ‘Pray Away The Gay’ Clinic