The 2010 GOP primary that will not end

The behind-the-scene tensions between Camp Branstad & BVP2010 were in full view today. As you may recall, Terry Branstad, Bob Vander Plaats & Rod Roberts were the three candidates in the primary for the GOP’s 2010 gubernatorial nomination. Branstad won. Branstad appointed Roberts to head his Department of Inspections and Appeals. Vander Plaats is now CEO of The Family Leader, a conservative Christian group.   The latest skirmish started after this news release was issued at 9:02 a.m.:

Pleasant Hill, IA – The FAMiLY LEADER learned that Governor Branstad has approved the use of the word “Governor’s” as part of the title of the upcoming 7th Annual Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning) Youth. 

This is an obvious change in his position.  On January 18th, a spokesman for Governor Branstad’s office told The FAMiLY LEADER that the administration was planning to contact event coordinators and request the exclusion of the word “Governor’s” from the Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth.  The FAMiLY LEADER publicly complimented the Governor’s action via an email alert.

Last week, The FAMiLY LEADER learned the Governor has changed his stance by sending a letter of support to conference personnel saying, “I support the conference and its goal of eliminating bullying and making Iowa schools safe for all students.  I do not object to you including the word ‘Governor’s’ in the conference title.”  Governor Branstad also said, “You have my very best wishes for a successful conference this year and in future years.”  Through this letter, Branstad voices his full support of the mission of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning agenda through his high praise and the lending of his official title, “Governor”, to their conference.

Bob Vander Plaats, President and CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER, says, “Governor Branstad needs to be held accountable for his support of this conference and the promotion of a very radical and dangerous left-wing agenda.” 

As a former teacher, coach, and high school principal, Vander Plaats reiterated his and The FAMiLY LEADER’s opposition to harassment and bullying of any type within a school setting.  Bob remarked, “Effective leaders in education provide safe learning environments.  However, effective educational leaders also lead with a focus on academic achievement versus agenda acceleration.  It is greatly disappointing and, frankly, disturbing that Branstad and his administration have chosen to be puppets to a far-left agenda versus being effective educational leaders.”

According to the conference website (, the mission of the Annual Iowa Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth is to a) engage and educate students, educators, parents, community leaders, youth-serving professionals, policy makers, and others concerned about issues relevant to the LGBTQ community, and b) encourage networking and activism to inspire our communities to promote diversity, equality, and social justice.  The website also claims goals of eliminating bullying in Iowa schools and creating leadership opportunities for LGBTQ youth.  

According to the event’s website, about half of the attendees are students.  The FAMiLY LEADER is particularly disturbed by some of the components of the Governor’s Conference noting that special bathroom instructions are provided in the conference FAQ’s saying “transgender friendly restrooms will be available for the gender any individual identifies with”.  Parents can only conclude that their teenage daughter may well be sharing a restroom with a male who “identifies” as a female.  Also troubling is the fact that exhibitors are allowed to distribute condoms and/or safe sex kits. 

The FAMiLY LEADER does not support LGBTQ behavior and believes that a conference of this nature approves, promotes, and accelerates this behavior among students.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “men who have sex with men and persons exposed through high-risk heterosexual contact account for 82% of all HIV/AIDS cases diagnosed in 2006”.  Therefore, The FAMiLY LEADER concludes that this conference is encouraging dangerous and unhealthy behavior while claiming to “provide a safe and supportive place in which to learn” as stated on their website.

The sponsors of the conference include the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA), the Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB), Aviva, and Rockwell Collins.  The FAMiLY LEADER assumes that taxpayer dollars are indirectly being used to support the conference since school districts use taxpayer money for ISBA dues and ISEA is comprised of members whose salaries are paid with public funds. 

Vander Plaats commented on the irony of Branstad’s support for a left-wing agenda while former Iowa governors, Vilsack and Culver, chose to remove their title of “Governor” from the annual Governor’s Prayer Breakfast.  “Vilsack and Culver had no problem upsetting the conservative base when they removed their title from a prayer breakfast, while Branstad surrendered to political pressure and abandoned his alleged conservative principles.”  “Leaders….lead,” expressed Vander Plaats, “Branstad caved.”

Branstad was asked about BVP’s statement during his weekly news conference.  After a reporter cited the “puppet of the left-wing agenda” line, Branstad and his staff (standing in the back of the room), laughed heartily.  “I’m not a puppet to anybody,” Branstad added. “He knows better than that.”  Read more here.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. […] Branstad, LGBTQ Youth & Bullying  Posted by Shane Vander Hart  Add comments Feb 122012   Governor Terry Branstad has gotten himself into quite a pickle.  It started late last month with a rumor that Governor Branstad didn’t want his name attached to Iowa Safe Schools Annual Iowa Governors Conference on LGBTQ Youth.  Branstad didn’t address the issue at first, and then ultimately caved bringing on the wrath of The FAMiLY Leader’s CEO Bob Vander Plaats which made some believe the 2010 gubernatorial primary never ended. […]

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