Prominent Rick Santorum backer Bob Vander Plaats of Iowa’s The FAMiLY Leader is urging “Gov. Terry Branstad to remove his title from the upcoming Iowa Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth in an open letter Tuesday, and invited Branstad to instead partner with his socially conservative group in hosting a more ‘comprehensive’ anti-bullying conference.”
Vander Plaats pressed his case during an appearance on WHO’s Jan Mickelson radio show last week, where he poked fun at “questioning” LGBT youth and suggested that the moniker is meant to recruit young people into homosexuality:
VANDER PLAATS: I know we laugh at the Q category, the questioning. But to me, somebody who has studied leadership enough, that is their growth agenda!
MICKELSON: I never figured out, now I understand what mom said, mind your Ps and Qs! Where are you going to pee? Not where the Qs are!
VANDER PLAATS: [Laughs] Oh, this has gone way off track. But Jan, you know, the Q/Ps is really one of the disturbing items to me as an educator because it’s a growth agenda. If you’re not lesbian, if you’re not gay, if you’re not bisexual, if you’re not transgender, matter of fact, if you just don’t know who you are. If you’re a Q, if you’re questioning — come to this conference and it’s all about promoting an agenda.
The FAMiLY Leader has its own long history of anti-gay and anti-Muslim rhetoric. An early version of the group’s fidelity pledge suggested that children were better off under slavery than they are under Obama, and the document likens homosexuality to polygamy, adultery, or polyandry, attacks gays as a public health risk, and foments the non-existent “Sharia” threat to America. Vander Plaats himself led a successful campaign to oust three state Supreme Court justicies who overturned Iowa’s anti-gay marriage law and played in instrumental part and leading Mike Huckabee to victory in Iowa in 2008.
Vander Plaats’ endorsement of Santorum on the eve of the Iowa caucuses produced a backlash among conservatives in Iowa, some of whom accused the FAMiLY LEADER president of engaging in “pay for play” schemes and selling his coveted support to the highest bidder. Santorum admitted that Vander Plaats approached the campaign with an indirect solicitation of money to help promote his support, but other sources familiar with the talks between Vander Plaats and GOP candidates characterized the tactics as “corrupt.”