Pete Buttigieg is reportedly thinking about attending the Family Leadership Summit, an election year candidates forum on religion and politics organized by Iowa’s most notorious homophobe.
You may recall the forum’s organizer, Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader, as the Iowa conservative behind the campaign to oust pro-equality state Supreme Court justices back in 2010, or the guy behind a failed boycott of Starbucks over its pro-LGBT policies a few years back, or perhaps the activist charged with selling his 2012 presidential endorsement (which eventually went to Rick Santorum).
But Vander Plaats is arguably best known for his group’s anti-gay, vaguely pro-slavery “marriage pledge” that was used in a (failed) attempt to get the most extreme social conservative elected as the party’s nominee in the 2012 election.
Vander Plaats told NPR he’s sending invitations to Democrats for the first time: Kamala Harris; Pete Buttigieg; Elizabeth Warren; Joe Biden; Bernie Sanders; Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker.
An O’Rourke spokesman told NPR that Beto will not attend because of the organization’s homophobic past: “Vander Plaats and the Family Leader have unapologetically provided a forum for dangerous anti-LGBTQ hate speech on numerous occasions. They are the antithesis of the unifying, inclusive, welcoming atmosphere that our campaign prides itself on in Iowa and across the country. We will not be participating in this forum.”
But Mayor Pete just might: “A spokesman for Buttigieg, who was criticized by a prominent conservative Christian leader this week for being gay, said he would consider attending.”
NPR adds: ‘Vander Plaats is a controversial figure, who has been regarded as a kingmaker among white evangelicals in Iowa, where the conservative Christian vote is a vital voting bloc for Republicans.’