The FAMiLY Leader, a Christian conservative group at the center of Iowa’s anti-LGBT movement, is holding an anti-marriage equality rally today at the state capitol in Des Moines. An email from the group promoting the event obtained by ThinkProgress bills it as the “last, best shot” at passing legislation to revoke same-sex marriage rights during this legislative session in order to “take back [Iowa] for godly marriage.” In addition to the group’s CEO, Bob Vander Plaats, a GOP political kingmaker who likes to compare gay marriage to polygamy and incest, the rally will feature disgraced politician and deposed Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.
Moore gained nationwide attention in the early 2000s for his quixotic (and unconstitutional) effort to install a 5,200 pound granite monument to the Ten Commandments in the Alabama State Judiciary Building after being elected Chief Justice of the state’s Supreme Court. His religious zealotry earned him widespread celebrity among conservative Christians, but also ultimately resulted in his removal from office on ethics charges after he defied both a federal court order and an order by the other eight Alabama Supreme Court Justices that required the unconstitutional monument to be removed from the building. Moore has a history of other troubling exploits, few of which have gained as much attention as his misguided Ten Commandments quest:
– Followed George Wallace’s Tradition of Courtroom Prayers: Early in his career as a circuit court judge, Moore generated considerable controversy when he opened court proceedings with prayers, just as Alabama’s infamous segregationist governor had when he was a circuit court judge. Indeed, the ACLU began complaining about the practice in 1993 and finally filed suit in 1997. When a judge ordered the prayers to cease and hinted that Moore’s wooden Ten Commandments display may also have to come down, then Governor Fob James also echoed Wallace, proclaiming that he’d go so far as to call out the National Guard to protect Moore’s religious activities. Moore used the fame he garnered from these early prayer incidents to help win election as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2000.
– Close Ties to Group that Has Advocated for the Execution of Gays: Anti-gay Florida outfit Coral Ridge Ministries helped make Moore famous by filming the installation of his Ten Commandments monument and then selling copies of the video to help fund Moore’s legal defense. (Several Moore items continue to be sold on CRM’s website.) According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Moore’s new Alabama organization, the Foundation for Moral Law, is also partly bankrolled by CRM. CRM’s founder, the Rev. D. James Kennedy (whose photo is still prominently displayed on its site) “recommended as ‘essential’ the virulent work of R.J. Rushdoony, who believed practicing gays should be executed.” CRM also promotes the widely-discredited notion of so-called gay conversion therapy and, more recently, warned that repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would result in forced abortions and Christians being excluded from “Barney Frank’s new pansexual, cross-dressing military.”
– Wrote Legal Opinion Declaring Homosexuality Is A “Heinous” ”Inherent Evil” and a “Crime Against Nature” Rendering Gays Unfit to Parent: A lower court had denied a lesbian’s request to transfer custody of her child to her from her abusive ex-husband, a verdict which was overturned 4-1 by the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, but was subsequently upheld on technical grounds by the Alabama Supreme Court. In a notorious concurring opinion, Moore wrote: “The common law adopted in this State and upon which our laws are premised likewise declares homosexuality to be detestable and an abominable sin. Homosexual conduct by its very nature is immoral, and its consequences are inherently destructive to the natural order of society. Any person who engages in such conduct is presumptively unfit to have custody of minor children under the established laws of this State.” In defending his opinion, Moore later claimed “I was just going by the law.”
– Opposed Ballot Measure to Remove References to Poll Taxes and Separate Schools for “White and Colored Children” from Alabama Constitution: The 2004 ballot measure, which failed by just 1850 votes out of 1.38 million cast, would’ve removed language about separate schools and another passage “inserted in the 1950s in an attempt to counter the Brown v. Board of Education ruling against segregated public schools.” Conservatives, with the prominent endorsement of Moore, defeated the amendment by arguing it would allow “rogue” federal judges to force the state to raise taxes to properly fund its public education system, “an argument that was ridiculed by most of the state’s newspapers and by legions of legal experts” at the time.
– Proposed Federal Law to Radically Rewrite the First Amendment: Moore helped author the Constitution Restoration Act, which would’ve prevented the United States Supreme Court from reviewing cases in “any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an entity of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer or agent of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official or personal capacity), concerning that entity’s, officer’s, or agent’s acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.” In other words, lawless judges or other public officials like Moore himself would’ve been free to violate the First Amendment without fear of rebuke by the federal judiciary. Somewhat ironically, considering Moore’s own removal from office, the law also provided for impeachment and conviction for any judge who violated it. It also would’ve essentially nullified the effect all of past decisions that under its terms would be removed from federal jurisdiction. The law, introduced in Congress by Alabama Senator Richard Shelby and Representative Rob Aderholt, fits in with Dominionism, “a trend in Protestant Christian evangelicalism and fundamentalism that suggests political participation in civic society should extend to attempts to take over and dominate the political process.”
– Contributes to Notorious Birther Outlet WorldNetDaily: Moore has authored over 100 pieces for WorldNetDaily, the far-right “news” website that has led the birther charge and frequently alleges various other right-wing conspiracy theories. As ThinkProgress wrote last year, “WND also ‘reports’ all kinds of wacky far-right trash like calling for ‘death to the U.N.‘ and claiming that Obama ‘supports ethnic cleansing‘ against Jews, that he ‘hates white people,’ and that he may secretly be a Muslim — not to mention numerous columns and stories featuring any number of homophobic slurs.”
– Argued That Muslims Should Not Be Allowed to Sit in Congress: When Representative Keith Ellison became the first Muslim elected to Congress, Moore penned a column at WorldNetDaily entitled “Muslim Ellison should not sit in Congress.” In his piece, Moore embraced the right-wing’s pet theory of s0-called “creeping Sharia,” which he accused Ellison of promoting. In explaining why Ellison (or any other Muslim) shouldn’t be allowed in Congress, Moore wrote “common sense alone dictates that in the midst of a war with Islamic terrorists we should not place someone in a position of great power who shares their doctrine.”
In addition to its anti-LGBT advocacy efforts, the FAMiLY Leader is also hosting an ongoing presidential lecture series for potential Republican presidential candidates, with Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich already scheduled to attend. (ThinkProgress has attended previous sessions with former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Congressman Ron Paul.) By attending these sessions, Republican 2012ers not only increase the profile of the FAMiLY Leader but would seem to tacitly endorse the radical, hate-filled rhetoric of Vander Plaats and his associates like Moore.