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09/22/2011

Vander Plaats dances around 'public health risk' claim [*that his org. totally pushed/(es)]

by Jeremy Hooper

The Family Leader's Bob Vander Plaats, speaking to Time magazine's Swampland blog:

Time's Alex Altman: You also said homosexuality was a public health risk. What evidence do you have to support that assertion?

Vander Plaats
: You’re talking about how it was compared to second-hand smoking? It was never this organization’s intent to say that if Bob is gay and Alex is not, Bob is going to be a health risk to Alex. I get asked all the time how same-sex marriage impacts my marriage. I say it doesn’t. But that’s the wrong question. How’s it going to impact the next generation? The reason we have a national debt is because you’re looking at yourself, not the next generation. With marriage, when you walk away from God’s design, there’s going to be serious ramifications. For us, it comes down to God’s design: one man, one woman. Anything outside that, we preach abstinence and purity. If everybody practiced that, we’d have a whole different culture today. A much better culture.

*Full interview: Q&A: Bob Vander Plaats, Iowa’s Social Conservative Kingmaker [Time's Swampland blog]

Okay, a few things here. First up: Look at how at how he frames the "public health risk" thing. When talking about The Family Leader and its Iowa Family Policy Council cousin, we are talking about an organization that quite literally 6A00D8341C503453Ef014E60Ec4E94970C-1pushed a program that told people (particularly pastors) that gay people and their marriages are akin to secondhand smoke. They even used a set of smoking marriage bands to clumsily make this point (see left)! And as part of these programs, they also distributed atrocious information packets simply teeming with far-right spin from the likes of Brian Camenker and Matt Barber with titles like "Gay Sex Kills," as well as tons of "ex-gay" advocacy from groups like NARTH. Packets that one could once download right off the Family Leader's own website (http://www.thefamilyleader.com/issues/marriage/The_Second-Hand_Effects_of_Same-Sex_Marriage/Downloads/), but that have since been scrubbed (*I've archived my own copy here, if you want to download the nastiness for yourself).

So for Vander Plaats to try to talk his way out of the "public health risk" thing when (a) his team quite literally positioned "Bob" as a threat to both "Alex" and himself, and (b) Vander Plaats has himself confirmed his "public health risk" belief in a ThinkProgress interview? That takes some gall!

But beyond just that, look at what Bob is saying here. He, the head of a group that will soon host EVERY LEADING GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, is suggesting that gay people have the choice of either marrying someone of the opposite sex or remaining abstinent for life. Those are the only options on his table. He staunchly opposes marriage equality, so a monogamously married same-sex couple would obviously be out of the question for him. That means that his "much better culture" framework leaves absolutely no place for LGB (and presumably T) people. That's a pretty bold thing for the GOP candidates to court!

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