Meet The Radical Group Driving The GOP Primary

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  • Advocacy Team

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.

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Advocacy Team