Bob Vander Plaats’ controversial 14-point marriage fidelity pledge and rather embarrassing “caught on camera” moment laughing at a “faggot joke” has caused a rift within the Republican party and led several GOP insiders and 2012 presidential candidates to raise concerns about the FAMiLY LEADER’s extreme conservative ideology and social beliefs. Iowa House Speaker Pro-Tem Jeff Kaufmann (R), who worked as a county chairman on Vander Plaats’ failed gubernatorial campaign, e-mailed Vander Plaats and the organization’s other leaders to tell them that the pledge — which contained a bizarre reference to slavery, asked candidates to ban porn, and claimed that being gay is a choice — had “ridiculous implications” and that they would soon have “no impact” in the state. LGBT groups have called on Vander Plaats to apologize for seemingly embracing the “faggot” slur, Mitt Romney described his Pledge as “undignified and inappropriate,” and Blue Bunny, a company with close connections to the group, has also distanced itself from the organization.
Now, it appears that state conservatives may be moving even further away from the LEADER. Yesterday, the Family Research Council, National Organization for Marriage, and Susan B. Anthony List, along with Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX), announced that they would be chartering an anti-gay, anti-choice “Values Bus 2011 Iowa Tour” next week. The tour, organized by the same groups who took to the road for a “Judge Bus Tour” as part of a campaign to recall the Iowa Supreme Court justices who overturned a state law outlawing same-sex marriage, will attract a who’s-who of religious right personalities, including GOP presidential candidates Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum. One name missing from the roster? Bob Vander Plaats and the FAMiLY LEADER:
Vander Plaats, who attended the Judges Tour, may still appear at some of the bus stops and events, but his exclusion from the website and the group’s press release may be notable. ThinkProgress contacted the FAMiLY LEADER to ask if the group intended to participate, but our calls were not returned.