Iowa legislators vow to protect Natural Law in light of Supreme Court opinion

The following press release was sent out July 1 and signed by nine Iowa state legislators, including: Sen. Jason Schultz, Senate District 9; State Rep. Tedd Gassman, House District 7; State Rep. Sandy Salmon, House District 63; State Rep. Steven Holt, House District 18; State Rep. Greg Heartsill, House District 28; State Rep. Larry Sheets, House District 80; Sen. Dennis Guth, Senate District 4; Sen. Randy Feenstra, Senate District 2; and State Rep. Stan Gustafson, House District 25.


We, the undersigned legislators of the State of Iowa, announce our reaffirmation of the principles of the Declaration of Independence.

We declare

1. The Declaration of Independence, an organic document of the United States of America, proclaims that all the rights of mankind are anchored in Natural Law. Specifically, all human beings are created equal and have unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

2. It is increasingly clear and self evident that all human life begins at conception and therefore, according to Natural Law must be protected and nurtured. Any other decision violates Natural Law as expressed in our Declaration of Independence.

3. It is self evident that only a sexual union of a male and female naturally creates a human life. Once created, the natural father and mother have a genetic bond to nourish and insure that the child’s unalienable rights are supported and protected. These obligations are carried out in a relationship between one man and one woman which balances the strengths and weaknesses of each sex in childrearing. This is the time-tested, societal definition of marriage. Therefore, any marriage relationship other than between one man and one woman violates Natural Law.

4. Natural law is unchangeable. Therefore, violating Natural Law will, by necessity, lead to the eventual elimination of unalienable rights and to increasing tyranny.

5. We cannot and will not abide by any man-made law or edict that encourages, condones or forces any American to violate Natural Law as expressed in the United States Declaration of Independence.

We as legislators agree with the meaning of President Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists which said we need a “separation of Church and State.” In context it meant that we must always keep the State away from any of the affairs of the Church. At the same time, in order for the United States to function at its best, the people who represent the citizens in government must reflect a strong Judeo-Christian ethic in all we do, including having a solid, unmovable moral basis in our laws.

Therefore, we the undersigned will use every Constitutional tactic possible to ensure the principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence are protected. Those principles are what have made America truly exceptional for 239 years.

Standing strong: Responding to common questions about the SCOTUS opinion

Is this “the law of the land?”
This case is not the law of the Land. Five men and women can’t change that which God established. God defined marriage as the union of a man and woman (Matt. 19:4-6; Gen. 1:27-28). A government that recognizes marriage to be whatever anybody says it is ignores the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.

Furthermore, the Constitution delegates legislative authority to Congress (U.S. Const. Art. I, Sec. 1), not the Court, so no Court opinion should rightly be called the “law of the land.”

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Should the government “get out of marriage”?
The government is called to enforce justice, punishing evil and praising good (Rom. 13, 1 Peter 2:14). In upholding biblical marriage, government praises a good that aids society by reducing crime, increasing educational attainment, and encouraging economic well-being for children and families. Furthermore, laws involving custody of children, inheritance, and child neglect all intersect with marriage law and protect individuals from abuse and neglect. Government cannot cease to be involved in marriage.

How should I show love to those who celebrate this decision?
People are not defined by their sexuality, but by the fact that they are image bearers of God (Gen. 1:27). As such, Christians must recognize the inherent worth of all people and care for them in accordance with the commands of God (Matt. 22:39; Phil. 2:3-4) and the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

Yet sin also mars that image and separates all of us from God. All of us need Christ. We ache for all those who have not yet received the joy of a new life in Christ, and we desire that all should come to Him. We recognize that love for God means we must keep His commandments (John 14:15), and love for our neighbor means we must tell them the truth about the need for the Savior and the hope of salvation.

As citizens and participants in the political life of our country, we should firmly oppose those leaders who continue to reject God’s design for the family and who celebrate sin. We should pray for those who are against us, and we should stand boldly for the truth for the glory of God and the good of our nation (Prov. 14:34).

Do you feel like you have lost?
Christianity was born into a Roman culture of sinful decadence. But the power of God through the church turned that decadent world upside down (Acts 17:6). While we grieve for our nation, we also remember that our mission is to preach the gospel, baptize, and make disciples. We only lose if we fail to remain faithful to God and His Word.

What can we do?
Pray for revival. Share the gospel. Be ready always to give an answer for the hope that is in us. We now have a great opportunity to show Christ’s light in our churches, homes, and the state. We much preach the whole counsel of God and encourage our churches to speak truth to our elected officials. We must be faithful to our spouses and families. And we must vote, run for office, and seek to be involved in government at all levels.

Don’t lose heart!
Our challenge now is to love God and our neighbor like never before. We no longer cling to a “once-Christian culture,” but endeavor instead to transform our culture through the power of the Holy Spirit. We must remind people that marriage is a picture of Christ and the church. And finally, once we have put on the whole armor of God, we must do what Paul commanded the Ephesians: having done all … to stand (Eph. 6:10-20).

Help The FAMiLY LEADER stand strong! Visit our Action Center to see how you can help today!

Supreme Court unravels definition of marriage

Today’s Supreme Court opinion, saying the 14th Amendment “requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex,” is not good for America.

The Court succumbed to demands to invent a new constitutional “right” (to same-sex “marriage”) never imagined by our Founders nor “endowed by our Creator.”

The Court did not so much redefine marriage, as it worked to undefine it altogether, to separate the institution from its anchor in the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God,” leaving future courts no legal basis for disqualifying any number of relationships from being called a “marriage.”

Furthermore, the Court’s decision was a judicial assault on the separation of powers and the American form of government. At the heart of every American liberty is the freedom for all Americans to democratically address the most pressing social issues of the day.

And yet the Supreme Court overrode the judgment of over 50 million Americans who recently voted to reaffirm natural marriage as the union of a man and a woman. By elevating itself to the sole arbiter of determining policy, the Court is effectively stripping all Americans of our freedom to debate and decide major issues through the democratic process.

Nonetheless, the Supreme Court’s opinion won’t end society’s discussion about the future of marriage and laws affecting the family.

When the Supreme Court handed down the Dred Scott decision, for example, it didn’t end the debate about slavery, but only intensified it. Roe v. Wade didn’t end the debate over abortion, for we’re still working through it today. Likewise, Obergefell v. Hodges, doesn’t end the debate, but only stirs it.

In fact, Obergefell v. Hodges throws a blazing spotlight on three issues, which will become major focuses, not only during this election cycle, but for years to come:

The definition of marriage

First and most obviously, how we as a culture define marriage is suddenly up for debate. On what grounds, for example, can polygamy now be excluded from the legal definition of “marriage”?

The FAMiLY LEADER will remain committed to holding up the gold standard of God’s design for the family, affirming the right of every child to be raised by both mother and father, and promoting a view of marriage that prioritizes children’s needs over adults’ desires. We believe neither Court nor public opinion can change the truth that the union of a man and a woman is the only objective definition of marriage that produces human flourishing.

Help The FAMiLY LEADER continue to stand strong for God’s design and your freedoms by making a donation today!

Religious liberty

Second, calling same-sex “marriage” a legal “right” starkly contrasts with those who believe it’s a moral wrong.

As we’ve already seen in places where same-sex “marriages” are performed, men and women of faith who have attempted to live out their convictions have been met with derision, fines, lawsuits, the force of government, and the loss of their livelihood.

The FAMiLY LEADER believes Americans should be free to live and work according to their faith without fear of being unjustly punished by their government. Religious liberty must be defended. A government with unchecked power to intrude on any citizen’s freedom is a threat to everyone’s freedom.

The role of the courts

Third, Obergefell v. Hodges raises the question of the proper role of the courts. Is America still a land of representative democracy and the rule of law, or is it governed by an oligarchy of unelected officials in black robes?

Even during oral arguments of the case, Justice Antonin Scalia noted the underlying question: “The issue, of course, is not whether there should be same-sex marriage, but who should decide the point. … And you’re asking us to decide it for this society.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy further recognized the gravity of the power the Court was asked to wield: “This definition [of marriage] has been with us for millennia. … And it’s very difficult for the Court to say, ‘Oh, well, we … we know better.'”

Whether the Court should have the authority to make such decisions for society and to decide it does “know better” in such monumental matters – and how the other branches of government and “We the People” should respond when the Court oversteps its authority – will be a critical debate in America in the coming years.

Ideally, the Court should only serve as a check and balance if the other branches or the people clearly violate the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God. In today’s opinion, the court didn’t defend the Law of Nature and Nature’s God; the judges acted as if they are God. Very disturbing for all of America!

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Further analysis: Will abortions at gas stations be next?

The Iowa Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Iowa Board of Medicine’s ban on telemed, or “webcam,” abortions is nothing short of the reckless pursuit of a political agenda, heedless of the dangers it creates.

Specifically, Iowans should recognize three ominous and lingering ramifications of this decision:

It prioritizes politics over women’s health

150624pregnantmotherThe Court’s opinion, which claims women have a constitutional right to an abortion that cannot suffer the “undue burden” of even requiring a doctor be present for the procedure, is dangerous first and foremost to women.

Even though a panel of doctors warned the chemical abortion procedure used in telemed abortions is too risky to undergo without a physician’s supervision and were so concerned about the mother’s life and health that it banned the “webcam” method altogether, the Iowa Supreme Court said having a doctor present was too much of a “burden” on the “right” of abortion.

But if the commonsense requirement of a doctor’s supervision is a step too far for this Court, what possible other restrictions could it logically accept? The judges have opened the floodgates to abortion made so easy, one wonders if quickie abortions at Iowa gas stations will be next.

This decision is so determined to free abortion from any “burden,” it ultimately strips women of the most basic health and safety protections. The Court has essentially brought back the back-alley and coat-hanger abortion and called it a protected “right.”

The decision illustrates the arrogance of judicial activism

150624judgeThe opinion itself cited two federal courts that required legislatures or administrative bodies to have a “rational basis” for restricting abortion and deferring when such basis was present. The Iowa Supreme Court could have followed that precedent and deferred to the Board of Medicine’s judgment on whether a doctor’s presence should be required at an abortion procedure.

Instead, the Iowa Court followed the example of two other federal courts, including the controversial 9th Circuit Court, and took it upon itself to decide what medical procedures are best for women.

“The Iowa Supreme Court said, ‘We’re going to test whether this is wise and balanced and fair,'” noted The FAMiLY LEADER Chief Counsel Chuck Hurley. “That is deeply disturbing. This is a case of judicial activism. The 7th and 9th Circuits had the same arrogance, saying, ‘No, we will decide whether the legislature or the board of medicine made a wise medical decision here.'”

In fact, part of the Iowa opinion highly criticized the medical rationale of the Board of Medicine. In the end, the Iowa Supreme Court, which is made up of seven judges, overruled the Board of Medicine, which has seven doctors.

“Surely doctors on a medical board would know which procedures need a doctor present and which do not, better than the lawyers on the Court would,” Hurley said. “The thing to me that really cries arrogance is that the Court substituted their medical knowledge for that of the doctors on the Board.”

The decision creates a precedent for striking down any incremental check on abortion

150624gavelEven before Roe v. Wade unleashed widespread abortion on America, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Griswold v. Connecticut decision found a “penumbra” (a nebulous shadow) of a “right to privacy” in the U.S. Constitution. Later, the Court would justify its Roe v. Wade decision by finding abortion somewhere within that phantom “penumbra.” Later still, the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case bolstered the crumbling Roe ruling by declaring no “undue burden” could be put on a woman’s so-called “right” to an abortion.

That’s the basis for the Iowa Supreme Court’s opinion that requiring a doctor be present for an abortion is somehow unconstitutional, since requiring a woman to drive a hundred miles to receive an abortion would be an “undue burden.”

As far as Hurley is aware, however, this is the first time the Iowa Supreme Court has found a “right” to abortion in the Iowa Constitution.

In fact, the Iowa Supreme Court declared in this case the Iowa Constitution is coextensive with U.S. Constitution. In effect, the Iowa Court indicated its decisions on abortion in the future will be tied to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions, unless it decides to expand its reading of the Iowa Constitution even further to allow for no abortion regulations, period.

None of this bodes well for any future attempts to preserve the sanctity of life in Iowa.

As a statement from Personhood Iowa noted, this opinion is the third time in the last month state and federal courts have “struck down” restrictions on abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court, for example, refused to hear an appeal to enforce North Carolina’s ultrasound requirement. Before that, the 9th Circuit Court rejected Idaho’s ban on abortion after 20 weeks of development. Now Iowa’s Supreme Court has declared the Board of Medicine can’t even require a woman to have an in-person examination before an abortion.

“These rulings seem to indicate a trend,” Personhood Iowa stated. “Courts are rejecting even the barest restrictions on abortion, no matter how commonsense, bi-partisan, or incremental, because they refuse to challenge a perceived ‘right’ to abortion. What law then can stand?”

Despite all the progress made in attempting to ensure abortions are “safe, but rare,” activist courts – including Iowa’s – have revealed they’re now willing to strike down any law that gets in the way of rampant abortion. “Safety” and “rarity” are not values these courts respect.

Activist judges are decimating the incremental approach of restricting abortion. In Iowa, they now have a precedent for striking down virtually anything short a human-life amendment, a constitutional provision for the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

The Iowa Supreme Court has unanimously declared it won’t allow commonsense restrictions, not even to protect the health and safety of women, to stand in its way of making abortion as easy and commonplace as possible.

Support The FAMiLY LEADER’s commitment to the sanctity of human life by clicking here.

Discover other ways you can partner with The FAMiLY LEADER by visiting our Action Center here.

Women at risk after Iowa court rules on ‘webcam’ abortions

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled today by unanimous decision to overturn the Iowa Board of Medicine’s ban on “webcam” abortions, a practice in which women are provided abortion-inducing drugs remotely, without any in-person examination by a doctor.

The decision clears the way for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland to perform this dangerous procedure.

Regrettably, the court’s decision allows abortionists to defy basic medical standards meant to put women’s safety first.

The FAMiLY LEADER agrees with the Alliance Defending Freedom – a non-profit legal organization that filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case – that the Iowa Supreme Court was should have upheld the common-sense ban, which is similar to protections for pregnant women in 16 other states. Abortion is too serious a medical procedure to be performed without in-person care by a licensed physician.

Planned Parenthood and other abortionists must be held to basic medical standards of care, and little is more basic than an in-person examination by a physician before a procedure that poses serious health risks. Regardless of one’s position on abortion, everyone should agree that Planned Parenthood should not be allowed to jeopardize women’s lives by disregarding established medical protocols.

“Planned Parenthood’s main concern should be the health and safety of women, not its bottom line,” commented ADF Senior Counsel Michael J. Norton.

ADF filed its brief in Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Iowa Board of Medicine on behalf of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Donna J. Harrison, M.D.; Iowa Right to Life; and Susan Thayer, a former director of an Iowa Planned Parenthood facility who resigned her position rather than perform “webcam” abortions.

ADF attorneys also represent Thayer in a separate lawsuit against Planned Parenthood of the Heartland that accuses the abortion giant of massive healthcare fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars.

The Family Leadership Summit 2015

Video of each of the speakers at the 2015 Family Leadership Summit is now available!

Take note: The keynote speakers of the 2015 Family Leadership Summit each took their turn “in the chair,” being interviewed on an in-depth, personal basis. No stump speeches, these are one-on-one interviews, including questions from both the moderator as well as the audience.

Click below to watch the speakers, listed in alphabetical, not chronological, order:

Shawn D. Akers

FLS15-Akers from The Family Leadership Summit on Vimeo.

Gary Bauer

FLS15-Bauer from The Family Leadership Summit on Vimeo.

Brian Brown

FLS15-Brown from The Family Leadership Summit on Vimeo.

Ben Carson

FLS15-Carson from The Family Leadership Summit on Vimeo.

Ted Cruz

FLS15-Cruz from The Family Leadership Summit on Vimeo.

Foster Friess

FLS15-Friess from The Family Leadership Summit on Vimeo.

Lindsey Graham

FLS15-Graham from The Family Leadership Summit on Vimeo.

Mike Huckabee

FLS15-Huckabee from The Family Leadership Summit on Vimeo.

Bobby Jindal

FLS15-Jindal from The Family Leadership Summit on Vimeo.

Steve King

FLS15-King from The Family Leadership Summit on Vimeo.

Tony Perkins

FLS15-Perkins from The Family Leadership Summit on Vimeo.

Rick Perry

FLS15-Perry from The FAMiLY LEADER on Vimeo.

Marco Rubio

FLS15-Rubio from The Family Leadership Summit on Vimeo.

Rick Santorum

FLS15-Santorum from The Family Leadership Summit on Vimeo.

Donald Trump

FLS15-Donald from The Family Leadership Summit on Vimeo.

Bob Vander Plaats

FLS15-Vander-Plaats from The FAMiLY LEADER on Vimeo.

Scott Walker

FLS15-Walker from The Family Leadership Summit on Vimeo.

The purpose of The Family Leadership Summit is to inspire, motivate, and educate conservatives regarding worldview application and the most pressing issues facing America’s families. The Summit will provide Iowans the opportunity to engage with national conservative leaders and hear their leadership vision on the issues that matter most to the future of America.

>>Click here to visit the Official FLS2015 Web Page.<<

Click here to watch the full day’s coverage, start to finish, originally broadcast live on C-SPAN.

WHO’s Jan Mickelson blows lid off explicit student conference

On Friday, June 12, WHO Radio host Jan Mickelson shined the spotlight of his microphone on sexually graphic and obscene material presented to Iowa schoolchildren at an ostensibly “anti-bullying” conference April 3 called the 10th Annual Iowa Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth.

Mickelson invited Iowa State Rep. Greg Heartsill to talk about an investigation into the conference after parents, students, and teachers in attendance reported the children were exposed to “pornographic,” “vulgar,” and “X-rated” content at the event.

Greg Heartsill
Greg Heartsill

Heartsill has been joined by over 20 other state legislators who are demanding answers on why taxpayer money was used to expose minors to obscene material. Heartsill and his colleagues deserve recognition and honor for working faithfully to defend and protect Iowa’s children.

Nonetheless, Iowa Safe Schools and Progress Iowa have inexplicably attacked Heartsill for working to safeguard children. The latter organization even took out a full-page ad belittling Heartsill in his hometown newspaper.

On Friday, Mickelson invited Heartsill on to his program to talk about the Iowa Straw Poll, the attack ad, and his courageous work to discover the truth about the conference.

You can listen to the free podcast of Mickelson’s June 12 program, including his conversation with Heartsill (which begins about an hour into the broadcast), by clicking here.

Read the original FAMiLY LEADER report that exposed the shocking content of the Iowa Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth.

Donate to the work of The FAMiLY LEADER by clicking here now!

Isn’t banning gays from marrying ‘discrimination’?

No. In fact, it’s only discrimination if we DO try to redefine marriage.

The speaker in this Q & A session – Ryan Anderson of The Heritage Foundation – argues that so long as we define marriage as the permanent, exclusive union of sexually complimentary spouses as husband and wife, potentially father and mother, then ALL people have equal opportunity under the law to enter that institution. The “equal protection” clause of the Constitution is fulfilled.

But if we redefine marriage to mean nothing more than the government endorsement of a romantic relationship, Anderson suggests, allowing only two homosexuals to “marry” inherently becomes discrimination against the romantic union of three or four or more people – what he refers to in this video as a “throuple” (as distinct from a “couple”) or a “quartet.” In other words, to arbitrarily extend marriage only to homosexual couples instantly becomes an act of discrimination against those who prefer other romantic relationships.

The “equal protection” and “discrimination” arguments can only remain consistent, Anderson argues, if we understand marriage has an established definition and people may either participate in that definition or not.

Watch the following video to see how Anderson handled this question from a crowd member: “Why should I, as a gay man, be denied the same right to file a joint tax return with my potential husband that a straight couple has? … How is that not discrimination?”

Help The FAMiLY LEADER stand firm in defending natural marriage by making a donation today. Click here!

Opponents, not enemies: Leading the way toward civility

Oz Guinness told attendees of the Iowa Prayer Breakfast April 2 that true liberty requires a civil public square, a society where people are free to hold and speak their conscience without threat of coercion or attack.

Which makes what happened on the campus of Drake University in Des Moines only one hour later either a remarkable coincidence or a Divine appointment.

On a beautiful spring morning when just about anyone would rather be out on the campus green than in class, three dozen students crammed into a crowded room on the third floor of Drake University’s Howard Hall. The space overflowing, most of the students had to sit on the floor.

They came to hear about an unlikely friendship and a series of civil discussions between two people who stand as public opponents on some of the day’s most heated issues, yet who also insist they are not “enemies.”


Donna Red Wing has been an advocate and activist for LGBT causes for 30 years and today is executive director of One Iowa, the state’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organization.

Bob Vander Plaats is the president and CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER, a Christian organization with a mission to strengthen families and a reputation for opposing same-sex marriage.

As leaders in their respective causes, the news media often quotes Vander Plaats and Red Wing as diametrically opposed voices in news reports on marriage and LGBT issues.

Yet in 2013, Red Wing was challenged by the death of a friend who exemplified reconciliation to attempt a conversation with the very person she would be most likely to call an “enemy.”

“Who’s the person who would be the most difficult to reach out to?” Red Wing asked herself. “I emailed Bob.”

Thus began the oddest of friendships, a relationship so out of the ordinary in today’s environment of partisan bickering and Internet flame wars that Des Moines Register’s Rekha Basu wrote a story about the relationship she said “left me nearly speechless.”

Watch video of Donna and Bob telling Drake students about their first, uncertain meeting:

But how do you forge a respectful friendship and civil dialogue when you disagree vehemently?

That was the question students of Drake Prof. Carol Spaulding-Kruse and her class, “Talking with the Enemy: Dialogue in a Polarized Age,” were asking.

“The first thing Donna and I did, I wanted to learn more about who Donna is as a person. She wanted to know, who is Bob as a person?” Vander Plaats explained. “In the media today, people are made into polar opposites, but who are you? Understand, I care deeply about the issue, but I care deeply about you. … I think it’s OK to model that. You can be passionate about issues without tearing each other down.”

“We made an agreement early on that nothing we did in those private, quiet conversations would change what One Iowa cared about or what The FAMiLY LEADER cared about,” Red Wing added, “but we did change how we as organizations interacted. For example, nothing goes out of One Iowa that will denigrate human beings, individuals at The FAMiLY LEADER, we’re very careful about that. And we’ve noticed The FAMiLY LEADER doesn’t attack Donna Red Wing.

“I don’t see us ‘enemies,'” Red Wing continued. “We’re political ‘opponents.’ Our understanding of social justice is very different. But if all that happens in what we do is that our organizations took a civil tone, it doesn’t diminish the passion of our work. It doesn’t diminish what The FAMiLY LEADER does.”

“Some of my best conversations, bar none, are with people who disagree with me,” Vander Plaats stressed. “You can sing to the choir all day long, and really, what did you get out of it? … I like to have intellectual conversation, and quite frankly, no matter where you’re at on the issues of the day, our country would benefit from civil dialogue and discussion, intellectual conversation. Not emotions, signs and pointing fingers – we’ve had enough of that.”

In fact, Bob and Donna learned in time there’s more to one another than their respective causes and more to their relationship than merely argument.

“It’s developing a better understanding of Donna’s perspective and Donna’s understanding of my perspective,” Vander Plaats said. “I think we would both be disingenuous if we [denied], ‘Boy would I love to have Donna come on over to my side and say [she] was wrong,’ … and she’d like for me to do that [too], but if you go in with that, you’re going to be disappointed a lot.”

The pair told Drake students how learning to see one another as people, not just ideological punching bags, led to a civil discourse that even included defending one another.

When an LGBTQ conference for youth turned Vander Plaats into a comic book villain, for example, Red Wing addressed it with the publisher. When a national radio host called Red Wing a “thug” and a “mob boss,” Bob emailed Donna that day, saying, “You are not a thug, and I’m going to talk to [the host].”

“That meant the world to me,” Donna said.

“Donna knows that genuinely I love her,” Vander Plaats told the students, while Red Wing nodded her agreement. “It sounds odd, but I do. I love Donna, and she knows I would do anything for her. And I think she would do the same for me. And we also know that we vehemently, fundamentally, foundationally disagree on some key issues to both of us.”

And while their coffee-shop conversations are intentionally quiet and private, Vander Plaats and Red Wing are willing to talk openly about this unusual path they’ve forged, in large part, because true civil dialogue is both too rare and desperately needed in America.

“Iowa for whatever reason is in the crosshairs of the world’s attention, whether we like it or not because of this presidential thing,” Vander Plaats said. “But it may be a good way for Iowa to model how to have civil dialogue on big issues, because our country could really use that today.”

“In this place and this time, here in Iowa, we get to model how those conversations happen,” Red Wing added. “That doesn’t mean if there were a bill to eradicate same-gender marriage in Iowa [One Iowa] wouldn’t be out there fighting with everything we have.”

“Freedom is tough. Freedom is not easy,” Vander Plaats said. “In some countries you can think whatever you want, you can believe whatever you want, as long as you don’t say it. That’s not this country. … So you have to be willing to engage in these kinds of dialogues if you really want to a have a civil, free society.”

The FAMiLY LEADER is committed not only to leading the way on some of our culture’s biggest issues, but also setting the example of how to engage in these discussions with civility and respect. Would you consider making a donation to The FAMiLY LEADER today? If so, click here.

Good news! Iowa passes human trafficking bill

In the final moments before the legislative session closed in Des Moines Friday, lawmakers passed a bill designating nearly $1 million to help stop human trafficking in Iowa.

“It was people’s voices that made the difference,” commented Chuck Hurley, vice president of The FAMiLY LEADER and one of the measure’s most ardent supporters at the Iowa Capitol. “You were relentless in calling and emailing lawmakers, not letting this issue slip from the forefront of their minds. In the end, they couldn’t ‘go to bed’ until this task was done. And that’s because of you.”

Hurley called the bill a “huge and unprecedented” blow against an evil industry that has stolen, drugged, and enslaved Iowa girls and boys.

If signed into law by Gov. Terry Branstad, the bill will designate funds to train law enforcement officers and many others to combat human trafficking at three levels:

  • The first, “front line” of defense will train local, county, and state personnel on how to identify the signs of human trafficking crimes in their daily work
  • The second level will train officers how to process human trafficking incidents, so victims can be rescued from their captors and protected long-term against those who would re-terrorize or enslave them
  • The third level of training teaches law enforcement how to go after the “kingpins,” to turn local arrests into evidence that can take down not only the kidnappers and pimps, but also the cartels funding and fueling the human trafficking industry.

“We now have one fist to smash human traffickers,” Hurley said. “That’s a huge deal. A second ‘fist’ is still needed next year in the form of additional investigators and other operational costs, which was not quite possible in this budget year. Nonetheless, this is a huge victory.”

For Hurley, it’s also a personal victory.

“I became a foster parent about 30 years ago. I care deeply about kids and rescuing those in danger,” he said. “But for too long, we’ve been cleaning up after the crime instead of stopping it cold. This funding will help us go after the crime leaders, to eventually cut off the flow – to send a clear message to those who would victimize our children: ‘You’re not welcome in Iowa.'”

Support more efforts like this by donating to the work of The FAMiLY LEADER. Click here now!

In addition to thanking you, the people of Iowa, for joining us in the fight against human trafficking, The FAMiLY LEADER would like to thank several others who were key in developing this legislation:

  • The FAMiLY LEADER Capitol Team: Chuck Hurley, Danny Carroll, and Tamara Scott
  • Teresa Downing-Matibag, Ph.D., executive director of Network Against Human Trafficking
  • Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Monticello
  • Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs
  • Iowa State Rep. Chuck Soderberg, R-Le Mars
  • Iowa State Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville
  • Iowa State Sen. Kevin Kinney, D-Oxford, a former deputy sheriff with experience working on sex trafficking cases
  • Mike Ferjak of the Iowa Attorney General’s Office
  • Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

Several other legislators, activists, and organizations also contributed to this effort. With their help – and yours – Iowa will soon be a safer place for our children.

Iowa Legislature takes baby step for life

In intense negotiations at the Iowa Capitol, a Conference Committee Report was approved that requires women be “given the opportunity to view an ultrasound image of the fetus” as part of the standard of care before receiving an abortion.

The FAMiLY LEADER commends the hard work of many legislators in taking this step to defend the value of human life. Giving mothers an ultrasound of their child can only help reveal how precious life is, and it is our hope that these informed mothers will, indeed, embrace the life of their unborn child.

While in any legislation, there are always nuances we may wish were stronger, The FAMiLY LEADER remains committed to seeking a day when all life is cherished, from conception to natural death, in culture, in law, and in state spending priorities.

Want to know how you can support the work of The FAMiLY LEADER? Visit our action center today!

Big News! 2015 Family Leadership Summit tickets are FREE!

Great news! The FAMiLY LEADER announces tickets for the 4th Annual Family Leadership Summit at Stephens Auditorium in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday, July 18, 2015, are available to the public for the first time at no cost.

Why free?

It comes down to this: America’s liberties are on the line, our roots are being eroded, and we want you to be engaged in a critical discussion about our future.

We want you to be informed about the real issues America is facing. We want you to know you’re not alone. That’s why we’re so grateful for those who are making sure cost is not a factor preventing you from coming on July 18.

“Through the generosity of donors and supporters of The FAMiLY LEADER, and their commitment to engaging the family in the discussion about the future of our nation, we are thrilled to announce that the 2015 Family Leadership Summit will be a ticketed – but free – event,” says Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER.

Click here now to register for your FREE tickets!

Why come?

The purpose of The Family Leadership Summit is to inspire, motivate, and educate conservatives regarding worldview application and the most pressing issues facing America’s families. The Summit will give you the opportunity to engage with national conservative leaders and hear their leadership vision on the issues that matter most to the future of America.

And … did we mention it’s free?

But getting the tickets for less doesn’t mean there’s anything less for you at this headliner event. Confirmed speakers for July 18 already include Gary Bauer, Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Marco Rubio, former Sen. Rick Santorum, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and more.


Last year’s Family Leadership Summit (which wasn’t free to attend) was a huge success, with more than 1,200 attendees and 100 members of the media and a lineup that included many of the conservative movement’s most prominent leaders, such as Dr. Alveda King, Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Tim Scott, Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Bobby Jindal, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Tony Perkins, Joel Rosenberg, Ken Cuccinelli, and many others.

This year’s event will also add additional names as the date draws near, making the Family Leadership Summit one of the most anticipated Iowa events of 2015.

Remember, though tickets are free, you are required to register for the Summit, and expect a freewill offering to be taken, so attendees can invest in engaging more Americans in the issues that affect their families in 2016 and beyond.

For more information about the event, visit by clicking here now.

We hope to see you there!

The following video recap of the 2014 Family Leadership Summit will also give you a taste of what to expect this year: