Six Democratic presidential candidates have declined an invitation to speak at an anti-LGBT group’s summit in Iowa.
NBC News on Monday reported U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke and South Bend (Ind.) Mayor Pete Buttigieg have all declined invitations to speak at the Family Leader’s summit that is scheduled to take place on July 12.
“I welcome any opportunity to talk about how faith guides me, but I cannot — in good conscience — attend an event put on by an organization that preaches bigotry and sows hate against the LGBTQ community,” wrote Booker on his Twitter page. “That’s why I am declining an invitation to the Family Leader’s July 12 summit.”
I welcome any opportunity to talk about how faith guides me, but I cannot—in good conscience—attend an event put on by an organization that preaches bigotry and sows hate against the LGBTQ community. That’s why I am declining an invitation to the Family Leader’s July 12 summit.
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) April 29, 2019
Buttigieg press secretary Chris Meagher told NBC News the campaign “will be declining this invitation.”
The Family Leader on its website says it also invited former Vice President Biden and U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to the summit. Media reports indicate Sanders and Warren have also declined the invitation.
“The Family Leadership Summit traditionally extends invitations to national leaders from the church, culture and government to speak to Iowa’s faith voters,” reads a press release on the organization’s website. “In the past, those invitations have included prominent figures from both political parties.”
Bob Vander Plaats, the group’s CEO, is among the country’s most prominent social conservatives.
The Family Leader asked presidential candidates to sign a pledge ahead of the 2012 Iowa caucuses that included a statement against marriage rights for same-sex couples. Vander Plaats has also made controversial comments about homosexuality.
Vander Plaats told NBC News the candidates’ decision to decline his organization’s invitation is “calculated.”
“The message it sends is they want to run for president for a piece of America, not for all of America,” he said. “When they’re sending a vision of unity, we’re offering a chance to discuss unity in a civil and safe environment and have a good conversation about it. We think we’re providing a great opportunity. Obviously it’s their choice.”