The president of the Iowa-Nebraska
chapter of the NAACP has endorsed anti-gay Republican gubernatorial
hopeful Bob Vander Plaats.
The Rev. Keith A. Ratliff Sr. endorsed
Vander Plaats during a Monday news conference in Des Moines.
“I know that Bob Vander Plaats is not
afraid to stand up for what is right,” Ratliff said. “That takes
“He's talked about the importance of
defending the institution of marriage. … That takes backbone and
determination. That's what I want in my governor – and that's why
I'm standing here today to show my support for him,” he added.
Ratliff, a board member of the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the
nation's oldest civil rights organization, also said he will actively
campaign for Vander Plaats.
All five of the men seeking the 2010
GOP gubernatorial nomination oppose gay marriage, but Vander Plaats
is the only candidate who has pledged to issue an executive order to
put a stay on gay marriage and force a vote on the issue.
“I will issue an executive order that
places a stay on same-sex marriages until the people of Iowa have a
right to vote on that definition of marriage. We need leadership
because today it's about marriage and freedom, but if you continue to
allow a Supreme Court to drive a car that isn't theirs it'll be about
private property, it'll be about freedom of enterprise, it'll be
about how you educate your children, it'll be about freedom of
assembly, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, everyone of your
freedoms is up for grabs,” Vander Plaats said in August.
An NAACP endorsement of a vehement
anti-gay marriage candidate might appear counter to the group's
national policy. Chairman Julian Bond and President Ben Jealous have
come out publicly in favor of repealing Proposition 8, the
voter-approved California referendum that banned gay marriage.
Bond, in fact, appeared in Washington
over the weekend to support gay rights at the National Equality
March. In 2005, Bond told a Virginia crowd that “applying for a
marriage license” could “change the world.”
In a spring story titled NAACP Offers
Mixed Message On Gay Marriage, On Top Magazine reported that it
appears a vote on gay marriage or the outlawing of gay marriage among
national board members has never taken place. That is, Bond and
Jealous have spoken against a ban on gay marriage as private
citizens, not as representatives of the NAACP. A distinction made
all the more apparent with Ratliff's endorsement.
Ratliff opposes gay marriage as well.
In a Des Moines Register editorial,
written by Ratliff and three clergy, the group said: “To anyone who
reads and believes the Bible, there is no room for compromise on the
issue of homosexuality. To those who look to 'natural law,'
homosexuality will always be un-natural and un-healthy for a myriad
of obvious reasons. … The Iowa Supreme Court has now issued its
opinion, but it fundamentally changes nothing. Now it is up to the
people and their elected officials to correct the court's error
through the constitutional amendment process. The four religious
leaders called for “Biblically justified civil resistance.”
“There is a lot of homophobia in the
NAACP,” California Conference President Alice Huffman told The
American Prospect. “There are a lot of Christians who feel
Jason W. Bartlett, deputy director of
the National Black Justice Coalition, a group that lobbies for the
civil rights of GLBT people of color, agreed.
“There are many [civil rights
organizations] that are dominated by the clergy,” Bartlett told On
Top Magazine. “And that keeps those civil rights organizations
either standing still or actually being somewhat oppressive.”
An Iowa Supreme Court ruling legalized
gay marriage in the spring. Since then Republican lawmakers have
remained fixated on overturning the court's opinion. The issue of
gay marriage is certain to dominate the 2010 gubernatorial race.