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Vander Plaats endorses Santorum for Iowa Caucuses

Bob Vander Plaats, head of Iowa’s Family Research Council affiliate the Family Leader, an organization opposed to rights for LGBT Iowans, endorsed Rick Santorum for the Iowa Caucuses on Tuesday. The Family Leader had previously declined to endorse any candidate in the GOP Caucuses, but Vander Plaats decided to make an endorsement on his own.

Vander Plaats’ endorsement of Santorum was not a surprise to LGBT advocacy groups; both men have a history of making inflammatory statements against the LGBT community.

“Today’s endorsement of Rick Santorum by Bob Vander Plaats comes as no surprise,” One Iowa Executive Director Troy Price said in a statement. “Both Santorum and Vander Plaats have all built their careers attacking loving and committed gay and lesbian couples, and the fact is that Vander Plaats caved to the extreme social conservative agenda. With poll numbers lagging, it is clear Rick Santorum does not have a chance against President Obama in November, and Vander Plaats has endorsed a losing candidate.”

Vander Plaats drew the ire of many Iowans earlier this year when his group released a “marriage vow” for Republican presidential hopefuls that suggested that children were better off under slavery than they are under President Obama. After significant criticism, that language was removed.

But the vow, which Santorum signed, also likened homosexuality to polygamy, adultery, and polyandry; called gays and lesbians a public health risk; and asserted that homosexuality is a choice.

Price said that Vander Plaats’ endorsement of Santorum shows he is out of step with popular opinion regarding LGBT issues.

“Today’s announcement proves what we have known all along,” he said. “Bob Vander Plaats is out of touch with what voters want. What Iowans care about are jobs and the economy, and they deserve a candidate who does too.”

Vander Plaats’ action during the 2012 campaign has led some Republicans to criticize his tactics.

Iowa House Speaker Pro-Tem Jeff Kaufmann sent Vander Plaats a scathing email in July, which read, in part: “Guys your integrity is in question and your political credibility is waning to the point of no impact,” he wrote.

Santorum and Vander Plaats have both called for reduced federal spending, yet both have played a crucial role in funneling millions of taxpayer dollars to conservative Christian outfits that support their agenda of opposing equal rights for LGBT people.

Vander Plaats’ Family Leader got $2.2 million in federal money for the Marriage Matters program between 2006 and 2010.

As a U.S. senator, Santorum was instrumental in securing $3.1 million for conservative Christian groups in Pennsylvania, including the Urban Family Council, a Philadelphia-based group headed by William Devlin.

Devlin’s group supports laws criminalizing gays and lesbians. He told the Advocate in 2003, that he is “one of those folk who believes the government should be in our bedrooms.” He also filed suit to prevent domestic-partner benefits from taking effect in Philadelphia and has vociferously supported a proposed amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution barring same-sex marriage.

In endorsing Santorum, Vander Plaats told reporters: “Our fear all along is that the conservatives would fragment their votes. In our assessment, we believe Rick Santorum is the best one to launch out of Iowa. … Hopefully, this gives him a stamp of credibility that some people are waiting for.”

He added: “I believe Rick Santorum comes from us. Not to us. He comes from us. He is one of us.”

Though Santorum is taking the endorsement seriously, Vander Plaats said in July that he doesn’t put much weight to endorsements.

In addition to Vander Plaats, Chuck Hurley of the Iowa Family Policy Center also endorsed Santorum. The IFPC is a division of Vander Plaats’ Family Leader.

Photo: Rick Santorum (ricksantorum.com)

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