As Governor Rick Perry ponders a run for the presidency, it is already clear that he doesn’t mind working with the most radical of anti-gay leaders. Perry’s The Response prayer rally is hosted by the American Family Association, whose spokesman Bryan Fischer wants to see homosexuality criminalized, and former activists with The Call, a prayer rally that defended Uganda’s ‘kill-the-gays’ bill. Other individuals working with The Response include militantly anti-gay leaders Jim Garlow, Cindy Jacobs, David Barton and David Welch.
Now, the Des Moines Register reports that Perry aides are reaching out to Bob Vander Plaats, the head of The Family Leader. Vander Plaats led the successful campaign to remove three Iowa Supreme Court justices who backed marriage equality and is closely linked to (and funded by) the AFA. Vander Plaats is also tied to an effort that likened being gay to being a cigarette smoker and once said that allowing equal marriage rights for gay couples threatened the system of private property and gun-ownership rights. One former adviser said that Vander Plaats is “obsessed with the gay marriage issue.”
Since Vander Plaats is a powerful Religious Right figure who has hosted presidential candidates like Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Herman Cain, it is no surprise that Perry is in touch with him:
A supporter of possible presidential candidate Rick Perry of Texas telephoned an Iowa conservative leader today, inquiring about the political scene in Iowa.
“They were asking questions, asking my take on Iowa, how things are lining up and also making sure I know they like Rick Perry,” said Bob Vander Plaats, president of the Family Leader, an Iowa-based conservative advocacy group that’s hosting a presidential lecture series.
Vander Plaats said he has so far spoke with two Texans and one other out-of-stater, but declined to share their names because the conversations were intended to be private.
None of the callers included Perry’s political strategist Dave Carney, or anyone who currently works for Perry, he said. “They’re just people that are around him and they think he’d be good for the race,” Vander Plaats said.