Anti-LGBT Activist Bob Vander Plaats Endorses Ted Cruz

by Hayley Miller

Washington – Today, Bob Vander Plaats and leaders of Iowa’s worst anti-LGBT group, the Family Leader, endorsed Ted Cruz in the 2016 presidential election. Cruz and Vander Plaats share a long and repugnant history of anti-LGBT rhetoric and activism, and today’s endorsement puts Cruz even farther outside the American mainstream in a state that’s had marriage equality for six years.
Just a few weeks ago, the Family Leader was a sponsor of a conference in Des Moines whose organizer -- radically anti-LGBT radio host Kevin Swanson -- “raved approvingly that the Bible justifies killing gay people” according to the Des Moines register. Cruz, Jindal, and Huckabee were widely criticized for attending the event, dubbed as the “death to gays” conference, and Cruz pretended he was oblivious to Swanson’s long record of violent commentary against LGBT people. “Just a few weeks ago, Bob Vander Plaats sponsored a conference in Des Moines organized by someone who justified the execution of LGBT people, so his ringing endorsement of Ted Cruz today should chill Iowans to their core,” said HRC Senior Vice President of Policy of Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof, a native Iowan. “Iowa was the fourth state to establish marriage equality, and there are thousands of LGBT couples and their families across the state whose fundamental rights are literally at stake in this election. Fortunately, the vast majority of Iowans and Americans today think Cruz and Vander Plaats are wrong, and agree that LGBT people should be able to marry and have the same rights as everyone else.” Vander Plaats was joined in his endorsement by board chair Robert Cramer, who lost a primary for Congress in 2014, and Chuck Hurley, the Family Leader’s Chief Counsel. Vander Plaats’ -- and Cruz’s --  anti-LGBT views are out of step with the majority of Iowans. Iowa -- which has had marriage equality for six years -- supports marriage equality by an overwhelming 57-37 margin, according to the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute. Meanwhile, PPP found in an April poll that a 36 percent plurality of Iowans have an unfavorable opinion of Vander Plaats, and that the endorsement is a net negative in the general election. Only a paltry 7 percent of Iowans would be more likely to vote for a candidate he endorsed. Ted Cruz has ducked questions from the Des Moines Register and CNN’s Jake Tapper about why it was appropriate to attend the Vander Plaats-sponsored“death to gays” conference. Aside from both promoting the “death to gays” conference, here are just a few examples of the shared anti-LGBT rhetoric between Vander Plaats and Cruz:
  • Vander Plaats said he will ask the next president to ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling that made marriage equality the law of the land. Cruz has supported a bill that would strip the courts of jurisdiction on marriage equality.
  • Vander Plaats compared being LGBT to a public health risk, like smoking. “If we’re teaching the kids, ‘don’t smoke, because that’s a risky health style,’ the same can be true of the homosexual lifestyle. That’s why I think we need to speak the truth once in a while.” Cruz says that  “I believe that engaging in homosexual conduct is a choice.”
  • Vander Plaats led a campaign to recall three Iowa Supreme Court Judges who ruled in favor of marriage equality. Cruz attacked a fellow Republican for marching in a pride parade, saying, “When a mayor of a city chooses twice to march in a parade celebrating pride, that’s a statement – and it’s not a statement I agree with.”
  • Vander Plaats smeared transgender people and falsely suggested they would assault people in restrooms. Cruz has ramped up the transphobic rhetoric in recent weeks, calling efforts to drop the ban on transgender people serving in the military as “lunacy” and “nutty.”
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all. ###

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