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April 4th, 2013

Braley Makes Appearance at Iowa LGBTQ Conference

As Congressman Bruce Braley has begun to introduce himself to voters in western Iowa Wednesday and today, the presumptive Democrat nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2014 made his presence known at the annual LGBTQ youth conference that was being held at the Prairie Meadows Casino Conference Center in Altoona.

A short video of Braley was introduced and played at the beginning of the conference in which he highlighted his support for the LGBT community.  He also mentioned a number of bills that he has supported that either promoted equal rights or designated bullying of LGBT individuals as a hate crimes.

After the video, Nate Monson, the executive director of the Iowa Safe Schools organization that puts on the conference, made sure to mention that Braley is the only member of the Iowa delegation who belongs to the LGBT Equality Caucus in Congress.  Monson also mentioned that Braley’s wife Carolyn,  a teacher at Waterloo West High School, had brought down a group of students from her school.  Mrs. Braley serves as the faculty advisor for the school’s Gay/Straight Alliance club.

With two Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage scheduled to be rendered in June, together with Braley’s outspoken support of LGBT causes, the issue of gay marriage and religious freedom is sure to be a much debated topic in the 2014 U.S. Senate contest in Iowa.

Braley seemed to solicit the support of conference attendees when he closed his video by saying, “Have a great time, and I hope to see you in my travels around Iowa.”

A Strange Sight

As I drove into the Prairie Meadows parking lot, it was strange to see so many school vans and SUV’s parked in front of a casino. School districts from as far away as Decorah and Sioux City were in attendance.  Other districts I noticed while walking through the parking lot were Ankeny, Anamosa, Earlham, Humboldt, Iowa Valley, Linn-Mar, Lisbon, Mason City, Union, and West Liberty.




A Nice Spread

Conference attendees were treated to a continental breakfast and coffee and tea bar as they arrived on Wednesday morning.  A lunch buffet was also provided.  Vendors jammed the halls, and the event’s sponsors were shown on the video screens.  This year’s sponsors included, Principal Financial, Rockwell Collins, Nationwide, Aviva, The Iowa State Education Association (ISEA), the Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB), and the Iowa School Administrators.

The ISEA booth proudly featured an Educators for Obama sign.


Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Right Wing?

The much talked about workshop that outraged many Republicans was big let down if you ask me.  First of all, the “Right Wing” in Iowa as described by Matt Sinovic of the Progress Iowa, is Bob Vander Plaats, Chuck Hurley, Steve Deace, and Jan Mickelson.  I was shocked that no elected official made the list, but then again Mr. Sinovic went out of his way to say that Republicans are different from the right wing.

This tactic allowed Sinovic the ability to cherry pick comments that Vander Plaats, Hurley, and Mickelson have made in the past.  Sorry Mr. Deace, none of your statements were read or featured in YouTube videos.  Basically, these are the same things we have seen before.

One clip highlighted Jan Mickelson saying, “I don’t think that the mark of the beast will be 666, I think it’s a rainbow.”

Instead of taking issue with the things that Vander Plaats has said over the years, Sinovic instead chose to let groups like Think Progress and Stephen Colbert do the talking for him by showing videos like the one below.

It’s obvious that Sinovic and his organization disapprove of Vander Plaats’ involvement in removing three Supreme Court Justices in the 2010 retention election, but he failed to present any evidence for why Vander Plaats was wrong.  Instead, Sinovic simply laughed at Vander Plaats and claimed that Vander Plaats tried to scare people about what would happen if gay marriage was allowed in Iowa.  Sinovic also used recent polling data that shows more and more people supporting gay marriage as a reason for why Vander Plaats and others are wrong on this issue.

Chuck Hurley was criticized for the comments he made at a press conference last week regarding the conference.  During that press conference, Hurley told gay activists to “stop coming after my kids with evil propaganda.”  Sinovic and others take issue with the notion that a gay lifestyle is “evil.”

The “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Right Wing?” workshop attracted more adults than students, which I thought was interesting.  I don’t think the kids really care about Vander Plaats or anyone else.

My Two Cents

I don’t support conferences like the one held at Prairie Meadows on Wednesday because they are designed to push a certain agenda.  No school should tolerate bullying of any form.  That goes for the fat kid, the dumb kid, the kid that smells bad, the promiscuous kid, AND the gay kid.  Iowa schools should have zero tolerance when it comes to bullying of any kind.

I also don’t think the kid that likes to read the Bible or has strong religious views should be silenced.  Like everyone else, I think that he or she should be respectful, but it seems to me that our culture is becoming tolerant of everything and every religion except for Christianity.

Maybe instead of being vehemently opposed to the Governor’s Annual LGBTQ Youth Conference, conservatives should start a conference of their own and call it the Governor’s Annual Christian Values Conference.  I fear that Christians have removed themselves from our public schools as much as the educrats have removed faith from the schools.  If a school can have a LGBT group and use school vehicles to transport kids to a casino in Polk County for an all day conference, I don’t see why we can’t start Bible groups in schools and use school vehicles to transport kids to a conference about Christian values.

I think it’s time to engage the culture, not kick and scream about the same conference every twelve months while accomplishing nothing but free publicity for an event we oppose.


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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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