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.
Family Leader reclaims health comparison between homosexuality, second-hand smoke
In Feburary, Bob Vander Plaats attempted to distance himself from an anti-gay seminar series hosted by the Iowa Family Policy Center, a socially conservative organization that falls under the umbrella of the group Vander Plaats leads, The Family Leader. Links promoting the seminars, “The Second-Hand Effects of Same-Sex ‘Marriage’” were removed from The Family Leader website, and Vander Plaats publicly indicated such sessions were completed well before he was hired to lead the political action arm of the organizations.
“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…, 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.”
Although Vander Plaats was adamant that he and The Family Leader organization had no role in the seminar series, which is still being advertised online, he never indicated during the previous exchange if he personally believed that homosexuality and same-sex marriage were as much of a public health threat as second-hand smoke.
Currently, The Family Leader has embarked on a county tour in hopes of building on the conservative momentum that many believe led to the ouster of three Iowa Supreme Court justices in November. The three justices, who were up for routine retention votes, had taken part in an unanimous court decision to strike a legislative ban of same-sex marriage on grounds that it violated the state’s equal protection clause. Vander Plaats, fresh off his third failed GOP gubernatorial primary bid and funded by anti-gay interest groups (since designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center), led the effort to oust the justices, and has since advocated for removal of the four remaining justices who took part in the decision.
During an Ames stop on the county tour, Vander Plaats had a taped exchange with liberal advocacy group ThinkProgress in which Vander Plaats re-asserts the validity of claims made on the “second-hand effects” site that homosexuality is a curable public health risk.
“If we’re teaching the kids, ‘Don’t smoke, because that’s a risky health style,’ the same can be true too of the homosexual lifestyle,” Vander Plaats said. “That’s why I think we need to speak the truth once in a while.”