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Leading Iowa ‘Family’ Group Compares Homosexuality To ‘Second Hand’ Cigarette Smoke

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"Leading Iowa ‘Family’ Group Compares Homosexuality To ‘Second Hand’ Cigarette Smoke"

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Good As You’s Jeremy Hooper has put together a video exposing the anti-gay rhetoric of The Family Leader, a conservative group spearheading the repeal same-sex-marriage campaign in Iowa. The organization’s president, Bob Vander Plaats, has embarked on a 99-county tour in which he presents The Family Leader as a traditional religious group that is more interested in restoring biblical values than slandering gay people. “The Family Leader affirms sexual relations within the bond of marriage, and opposes distortions of sexuality or special rights to those practicing distorted sexual behavior,” the group’s website states.

But as Hooper discovered, a slight alternation of the organization’s website reveals SecondHandEffects.com, a site which describes homosexuality as a public health crisis akin to smoking and endorses discredited ex-gay reversal therapies:

In fact, one doesn’t even have to change the URL or search for the “Second Hand Effects” of same-sex marriage. I signed up for The Family Leader’s email alerts and was taken to this page, which prominently displayed the offending website:

SecondHandEffects.com offers the following “facts” about homosexuality:

– Reduces life expectancy by about 20-35 years.

– Homosexuals are 20x more likely to be abused by partner than heterosexual.

– CDC reports cancer rate is 90x higher in homosexual men – while smokers is only 10-30x.

– Yes, they CAN change! (Sept. 1, 2009 NARTH report).

Plaats and the Iowa Family Policy Center, which is a subsidiary of the Family Leader, have a long history of anti-gay bigotry. In June 2010, the Iowa Independent reported that Iowa Family Policy Center president Chuck Hurley called a group of pastors who supported same-sex marriage “confused at best and blatantly evil at worst.” Earlier this year, Family Leader official Danny Carroll predicted same-sex marriage in Iowa will lead to polygamy and Plaats himself compared gay unions to incest.

The group has also established lecture series with potential presidential candidates like Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Newt Gingrich. And that, Hooper concludes, creates “a national interest” “that exceeds the gay marriage conversation altogether.” “The Family Leader has every right to connect gays to cigarette smoking, and conservative leaders have the right to align themselves with this kind of advocacy,” he says. “But if they do, then perhaps the big election question of 2012 will be, is this really the kind of change any of us should believe in?”

Cross-posted on The Wonk Room.

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