Vander Plaats blasts same-sex marriage in IC

BY SARAH BULMER | MARCH 31, 2011 7:20 AM

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Bob Vander Plaats said he sees a “window of opportunity,” and he’s taking it.

“Our organization is not fearful,” he said. “We know where the truth is.”

Vander Plaats and his cohort Matt Reisetter spoke at the Pizza Ranch at the Sycamore Mall on Wednesday. Vander Plaats, who advocates against same-sex marriage, successfully campaigned for the ousting of three Iowa Supreme Court justices who were part of the court’s unanimous decision allowing same-sex marriage in Iowa in November 2010.

He stopped in Iowa City on his 99-county tour to promote voting out the remaining four justices in the decision.

The “Capturing Momentum Tour,” affiliated with the Family Leader organization, aims to create a statewide network of “like-minded conservatives who are concerned about the Constitution and their families,” Vander Plaats said Wednesday.

The Family Leader supports traditional marriage and strives to keep the bond between Christian conservative views and public policy closely knit.

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“This thing called a republic hinges on two inseparable rungs: religion and morality,” Vander Plaats told a crowd of approximately 40 people.

Supporters cheered as he spoke.

“That’s the art of politics,” he said. “If you can’t win the issue, you destroy the messenger.”

“Amen,” several people responded.

“If you’re going to void one man-one woman marriage, for heavens sake do not limit it to same sex,” he said later. “If you’re going to open up the institution of marriage, have some fun already and open it up.”


However, his critics are skeptical about his stance as a political figure that advocates religion so strongly.

University of Iowa junior Ryan Maher said he disagrees with Vander Plaats’ view of freedom. As a child, Maher grew up in several foster homes, and sometimes lived in homes with same-sex couples, and he doesn’t understand the origin of the idea that that environment is abusive to a child.

“[Vander Plaats] claims to not use fear, but I went to his rally in Des Moines, and that’s exactly what they did,” Maher said.

Vander Plaats and Reisetter have traveled to Pizza Ranch restaurants across the state in Dubuque, Sheldon, and Cedar Falls in order to preach the “truth” to their followers.

“When one woman-one man marriage means anything you want, I think its time someone stands up and says the sky is falling,” Vander Plaats said to the crowd as they ate pizza and sipped soft drinks provided by the Family Leader.

Outside the restaurant, protesters gathered.

“I think that a threat to anyone’s marriage is a threat to my own decision to marry,” said Robert Ehl, who stood in the parking lot of Sycamore Mall.

Soon after they arrived, the protesters, including Ehl and his two daughters, were asked to leave by police officers for violating the mall’s “no protesting policy.”

“I don’t think we’ll be going back to [Sycamore] Mall,” Ehl said.

The community room was filled with supporters of Vander Plaats.

Coralville resident Rich Clinite said he believes any homosexual act is destructive to society, and he supports all of Vander Plaats’ views.

“Sin is like a mirror,” Clinite said. “If there’s one crack in the mirror, no matter how tiny it is, its imperfect.”

Vander Plaats has recently received scrutiny because of his campaign to oust the judges.

However, voters are just as concerned about the nature of the Legislature. Neither former Gov. Chet Culver nor Gov. Terry Branstad has signed off on a bill that would allow same-sex marriage in the state of Iowa.

“The issue of whether Iowa should allow gay marriage wasn’t presented to the voters,” said Tim Hagle, UI political-science associate professor whose research focuses on judicial and political behavior. “It’s almost impossible to remove [a judge] from the merit system.”

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