The Truth About The Family Leader


If you’re like many concerned Iowans, you may also be wondering why The Family Leader is heavily involved in Iowa politics. Well, we’re here to help answer where this group came from and why they’re impacting your lives. 


The Family Leader is the state policy affiliate for the Family Research Council, designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. The Family Research Council originated in Washington D.C. and has experienced great controversy throughout the years, including their affiliated PAC, FRC Action, being led by sex offender Josh Duggar in 2013.

Bob Vander Plaats, the president and CEO of The Family Leader, has also gained a reputation for his extreme anti-LGBTQ stances in Iowa over the years.

The Family Leader was originally known as the Iowa Family Policy Center in 1996, but became the Family Leader in 2010. 


Governor Reynolds used the 2023 Family Leadership Summit to sign her abortion ban, which has since been under injunction, into law. Reynolds was previously scheduled to speak at this event, where the American Family Association Action, also designated as an SPLC hate group, was listed as a top funder, alongside The Heritage Foundation and Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. 

Prior to the Family Leadership Summit, Vander Plaats called for the removal of Iowa Supreme Court Justices who ruled against the previous abortion ban. This is especially concerning as The Family Leader’s campaign successfully ousted three Iowa Supreme Court Justices in 2010 who ruled to legalize same sex marriage in 2009. 


If you see the Family Leader spreading misinformation on social media, report it. If you directly reply it’ll boost their engagement. Also, make sure to lead with your values. Don’t reiterate their message in an attempt to counteract it. For more information on winning the message war, please check out our research here.

Support and join groups who support everyday Iowans! One Iowa Action and Iowa Safe Schools are great organizations fighting at every level to uplift LGBTQ Iowans. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa and the Iowa Abortion Access Fund support Iowans’ reproductive rights and provide access to various resources in the state. We also have a petition here with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa and Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund to support reproductive freedom. Please sign this petition to stand against attacks to abortion rights.


Family Research Council is identified by Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-LGBT Hate Group

“The Family Research Council (FRC) bills itself as “the leading voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power,” but the group’s real specialty is defaming LGBTQ people. FRC often makes false claims about the LGBTQ community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to dehumanize LGBTQ people as the organization battles against LGBTQ rights. In the past, this included stances against same-sex marriage, hate-crime laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. FRC continues this work but has also revived long-debunked pedophilia and grooming myths in its work against transgender rights, opposition to drag performances, and support for conversion therapy.”

Source: Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Files – Family Research Council

The Family Leader is Iowa’s ‘Family Policy Council’ for the Family Research Center

“Family Policy Councils (FPCs) accomplish at the state level what Family Research Council does at the national level”

Source: FRC State Family Policy Councils (listing The Family Leader)

Bob Vander Plaats: America’s most powerful bigot? 

“The extreme brand of ideology Vander Plaats pushes drags the Republican Party’s debate dangerously far to the right — for example, comparing homosexuality to secondhand smoke and slavery, as well as blasting Herman Cain’s abortion position as insufficiently conservative. His influence makes it impossible for legitimate candidates to survive the first in the nation caucus without addressing and, most often adopting, positions more akin to a carnival barker than a political leader.”

Source:, August 9, 2013

The Family Leader president calls for ouster of Iowa Supreme Court justices after abortion decision

Reynolds Signs Iowa Abortion Ban Bill At Evangelical Summit

Photo from Bob Vander Plaats Social Media

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