Anti-Equality Candidates

Author: The Human Rights Campaign
Published: Thursday 10th December 2015
Summary: Candidates who appeared at Family Leader Presidential Forum, and highlights from their anti-LGBT rhetoric and records.

With less than 60 days until the Iowa Caucus, the state's most prominent anti-LGBT group, the Family Leader, is expected to announce tomorrow it's highly sought-after endorsement in the 2016 presidential election. Seven GOP candidates attended the Family Leader's Presidential Forum in November, and their long records of anti-LGBT rhetoric and positions gives Family Leader President and CEO, Bob Vander Plaats many options to choose from.

"The Family Leader's endorsement tomorrow will be nothing more than a political sugarhigh," said HRC Senior Vice President of Policy of Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof, a native Iowan. "Bob Vander Plaats and his anti-LGBT rhetoric have been rejected over and over again in Iowa at the ballot box. When 9 out of 10 Americans know someone who is LGBT, and an overwhelming majority of Americans support marriage equality, any candidate who adopts the Family Leader's offensive rhetoric and actively courts their support does so at their own political peril next November."

Vander Plaats' anti-LGBT views are out of step with the majority of Iowans.

Iowa - which has had marriage equality for six years - supports marriage equality by an overwhelming 57-37 margin, according to the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute.

Meanwhile, PPP found in an April poll that a 36 percent plurality of Iowans have an unfavorable opinion of Vander Plaats, and only a paltry 7 percent of Iowans would be more likely to vote for a candidate he endorsed.

Here are the candidates who appeared at the Family Leader's November Presidential Forum, and highlights from their anti-LGBT rhetoric and records:

Ben Carson:

Carson has attacked transgender people by suggesting that they make other people "uncomfortable" and should be required to use separate bathrooms.

Previously, Carson suggested that LGBT families were not of "equal value" and that marriage equality would lead to polygamy.

Ted Cruz:

Ted Cruz recently spoke at the "death to gays" conference in Des Moines. The organizer, "raved approvingly that the Bible justifies killing gay people - ‘and I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.'"

Cruz has ducked questions from the Des Moines Register and CNN's Jake Tapper on why his appearance with the organizer was appropriate.

Cruz has also ramped up the transphobic rhetoric in recent weeks, calling efforts to drop the ban on transgender people serving in the military as "lunacy" and "nutty."

Carly Fiorina:

After initially suggesting that the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges was the law of the land, Fiorina tried to deny her own words and suggested to an Iowa radio host that her statement was issued by another candidate.

Mike Huckabee:

When President Obama nominated Eric Fanning, who has more than 20 years of national security experience, to be Secretary of the Army, Huckabee smeared him and said Obama was "more interested in appeasing the gays" than defending our country.

Rand Paul:

Rand Paul suggested in Iowa that LGBT people who face discrimination in the workplace should go back into the closet, saying "if you are gay, there are plenty of places that will hire you" and "the things you do in your house, if you leave them in your house, they wouldn't have to be part of the workplace."

Marco Rubio:

Just last weekend in Iowa, Rubio boasted that he would repeal President Barack Obama's executive order protecting LGBT federal contractors from workplace discrimination. He also recently made a vow to "never change" his position on marriage equality.

Rubio recently threatened to appoint judges to the Supreme Court who would overturn the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges court ruling.

Rick Santorum:

Rick Santorum said that the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges is "disrupting the foundation of the world."

Santorum thinks being LGBT is a lifestyle choice. "There are people who are alive today who identified themselves as gay and lesbian and who no longer are. That's true. I do know - I've met people," he said. "All I'm saying, I do know people who have lived a gay lifestyle and no longer live it."

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