Off The Record: On Religion, Politics & Equality
This is my new article at The Revealer. Read, research, enjoy.
As Goes Iowa:
The Family Leader, Religious Politics and 2012
America’s culture wars are at full throttle: defunding Planned Parenthood, chipping away at a woman’s right to an abortion – and if possible taking away that right altogether, preventing or ending gay marriage (because it could lead to Sharia law), enacting Religious Freedom Restoration Acts to “restore religious liberty” that was never lost. State after state after state serves as a front on which the Christian Right and their willing Republican legislators wage these wars. Iowa is a perfect microcosm, an example of the powerful Christian Political Action Committees (PACs) leading the effort. Iowa’s powerful and successful The Family Leader is a model to which all others can be held.
The Iowa Family Policy Center (IFPC), which recently changed its name to The Family Leader*, is the most vocal and political anti-gay organization in Iowa. As a federally fundedchapter of the Family Research Council (FRC), IFPC railed against gay marriage leading up to the 2009 Iowa Supreme Court decision granting marriage equality for same sex couples. They started the “LUV Iowa” (Let Us Vote) Campaign to bring a Proposition 8-like ballot initiative to the state. They sent lobbyists to the state capital and held ‘pro-family’ rallies.
Then, in a momentum-building coup, IFPC president Chuck Hurley, a former Iowa legislator, and Bob Vender Plaats, 2008 Mike Huckabee Iowa campaign chair and three-time gubernatorial candidate, led a state-wide campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court Justices who voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. The campaign was financed by FRC Action, the National Organization for Marriage and the American Family Association. In the end, Iowa voted to remove the so-called “activist judges.” Chuck Hurley told the press that they “did God’s will.”
Since that victory, The Family Leader’s political power has grown and will by design continue to grow in the run-up to next year’s general election. The organization has positioned itself as the gatekeeper for the 2012 first-in-the-nation Republican caucus by hosting presidential speaking events throughout Iowa. These “educational” events bring presidential hopefuls and right wing luminaries such as tea party siren Michelle Bachman, and Rick Santorum, a well-known anti-gay (former) politician who posited the legalization of gay sex would lead to “man on dog” relationships, to speak in high school auditoriums and college union halls around the state. Even the comparatively more mainstream Ron Paul recently accepted The Family Leader’s invitation to speak. Newt Gingrich is jumping on board as well.
Read the rest @ The Revealer