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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

Bob Vander Plaats, left, and Tim Pawlenty (photo by Lynda Waddington/Iowa Independent).
Bob Vander Plaats, left, and Tim Pawlenty (photo by Lynda Waddington/Iowa Independent).

Vander Plaats denies involvement in anti-gay seminars

The Family Leader website continues to promote lecture series describing homosexuality as a public health crisis
By Lynda Waddington | 02.08.11 | 7:58 am

IOWA CITY — Saying that he is touring the state in order to speak truth in a loving way, the man behind one of the state’s largest socially conservative political networks denied Monday that he had anything to do with a seminar series that presented homosexuality and its “second-hand effects” as a public health threat.

But the organization’s website continues to advertise the seminars, and the leadership of its subsidiaries have repeatedly said homosexuality is as dangerous as second-hand smoke.

Bob Vander Plaats, who heads The Family Leader, pushed back during a press conference when his guest, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, was asked if he agreed with the seminar’s conclusion that homosexuality is a bigger public health threat than smoking.

“I want to listen again to the premise of this question,” said Vander Plaats, interrupting before Pawlenty could speak, “because I don’t believe we’ve held any conferences on smoking.”

During a back-and-forth with the reporter, who represented Iowa Public Radio, Vander Plaats asked if the question was result of a posting on the “Good As You” blog, and then noted that he and The Family Leader were not responsible for what may have appeared on that website.

This image of The Family Leader's website was captured and published by Igor Volsky of Think Progress. It clearly shows The Family Leader advocating on behalf of the seminar series that discussed same-sex marriage and homosexuality "second-hand effects."

“The Family Leader has not been a part of that [seminar series],” Vander Plaats said. “The Family Leader — as a matter of fact, I’m the president and CEO of it — started in November 2010.

“Here’s what we are about: We’re about anything that works to strengthen families. We want to speak the truth, but we want to do it in love. We aren’t about being extremist, or about being fearful, or about being hateful. We are just about being truth and love. We are trying to be authentic in encouraging strong marriages and strong families, and have a voice in public policy. So, we are going to stand up for what we are for, not what we are against. I’m telling you, as the president and CEO, we’ve held none of that.”

Vander Plaats said in the press conference, and confirmed during a one-on-one interview with The Iowa Independent following the Pawlenty appearance, that The Family Leader had no role in the seminars many deemed so controversial, saying it could be a product of the Iowa Family Policy Center (IFPC). The Family Leader is an umbrella organization that includes IFPC and the formerly federally funded counseling program Marriage Matters.

“We have not held seminars on that,” Vander Plaats told The Iowa Independent during the follow-up interview. “My guess would be that maybe it was something done earlier… you know, ‘The Other Effects’ — I don’t know how they (the IFPC) phrased it. I was not aware of it.”

Vander Plaats said he interrupted the question during the press conference because he believed it to be “an uncomfortable position” for Pawlenty, “especially since it was about something that I was not aware of.”

When asked by The Iowa Independent how a blogger posted a screen shot of The Family Leader’s website with information about the seminar series, Vander Plaats pledged to look into it.

Chuck Hurley, who leads the Iowa Family Policy Center, made the charge in March 2010 that gay marriage was more dangerous than smoking.

“The Iowa Legislature outlawed smoking [in some public places] in an effort to improve health and reduce the medical costs that are often passed on to the state,” Hurley said at that time. “The second-hand impacts of certain homosexual acts are arguably more destructive, and potentially more costly to society than smoking.”

Days later the IFPC published information in its blog entitled: “What’s Worse — Smoking or Sodomy?

A website promoting the seminar series indicates that sessions have been held in at least 11 Iowa cities, but no dates are provided. Downloads available on the “Second-Hand Effects” website make several public health claims about homosexuality. The first such claim — that being a homosexual reduces an individual’s life span — was used by conservative radio host Jan Mickelson in February 2010 as he introducing former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Vander Plaats at an event in Des Moines, and has been widely discredited.

Although Vander Plaats denied direct involvement in the seminars, he made no comment to either support or reject their subject matter.

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  • Anonymous

    Everyone in the Iowa media must hold Vander Plaats accountable here. he is acting like he’s a one man show whose explicit, first-hand knowledge of the “second-hnad” program is what matters here. It is not. What matters is the obvious connection between The Family Leader organization and staff and the seminars. The Family Leader = IFPC = The Second Hand Effects. They have married all of these organizations and staffs — they must own these allegiances.

    Bob is being incredibly disingenuous by denying the clear, fully fleshed out connection. And frankly, I am beyond sick of their constant “shoot the messenger” strategy.

  • Anonymous

    Not sure how he can claim he is working towards strengthening families. What about the Gay families he is trying to take marriage away from. How will that strengthen them. How is trying to remove their right to marriage being loving? Since he lies about that he is probably lying about not knowing or not being involved.

  • Anonymous

    Why does his ‘truth and love SO resemble lies and hatred?

  • Anonymous

    Vanderscum is riding around Iowa (on a PAID Hate Tour, Funded by HATE GRPS) with his Boy-toy friend Matt “somebody” aka Luggage Carrier……….Vanderscum has major issues…..he needs therapy.

  • UIGrad2010

    This guy has an obsession with gay people. It leaves me wondering what he’s hiding. Just because he’s unhappy with his relationship, or whatever his hangup is, he shouldn’t be taking it out on us. Instead of hiding your bigotry or messed up mental problem or relationship problem with religion, maybe Bob should just come out with it to a psychiatrist.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve begun to think the Vander Plaats, like some other politicians and activists (usually right-wing, imho, but I haven’t done a study, so regard as opinion, please!), is addicted to attention, from both the media and more zealous followers, and will latch onto any cause that fulfills this desperate need for attention. Unfortunately, the more attention he gets, the more addicted he gets, and the harder withdrawal is.

      Perhaps there seem to be more right-wingers in this because the left is more fueled by science and education, which tendency doesn’t much allow for completely unsubstantiated claims. It’s hard to be a soundbyte without some exciting, if misleading, rhetoric.

  • egc52556

    Since when do people need to be married to practice sodomy? Since when do people need to be homosexual to practice sodomy? Since when will any government law have any impact on whether people are homosexual or heterosexual or practice sodomy or not?

    Vander Plaats is just a plain old fashioned homophobe. Nothing more.

  • Anonymous

    People, especially the youth of this country, need to realize this is not just a gay issue. It is an equal rights issue. It’s a small group imposing their personal religious views onto others, and while they say they are doing it out of “love” (of self maybe), it is obvious they will not be happy until all homosexuals are back in the closet. To put icing on the cake, they say they are bringing America back to what the founding father’s wanted, which as far as I can tell is a white, straight, Christian Nation. Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and others must be spinning in their graves as this group spits on the Constitution while maintaining they are merely cleaning it.

  • Greg Hauenstein

    I think I read something in the Bible about lying…

    • Rickster Rickster

      there is also something about using magic to make a profit. the bible considers magic to be a real and actual thing. maybe we should be stoning david copperfield

  • Rickster Rickster

    would somebody please send these jokers a list of the top selling/rented adult heterosexual pornographic videos? they all involve sodomy. evidently all straight men want is sodomy.

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