Bob Vander Plaats, the president of the social conservative group The Family Leader, has endorsed the idea that being gay is as harmful to society as secondhand smoke.

After a failed attempt last year to win the GOP nomination for Iowa governor with a campaign focused on repealing the Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous 2009 ruling that brought gay marriage to the Midwest, Vander Plaats continued to campaign for the institution's demise.

He's backed campaigns to oust three of the seven justices that voted in favor of gay marriage, pressured lawmakers to approve a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and called for the impeachment of the remaining four justices on the Supreme Court.

At a February seminar featuring former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Vander Plaats distanced himself from claims made by the Iowa Family Policy Center, a group that has been absorbed by The Family Leader.

At the seminar series The Second-Hand Effects of Same-Sex Marriage, the Iowa Family Policy Center argues that homosexuality is as dangerous to society as secondhand smoke.

“The Family Leader has not been a part of that [seminar series],” Vander Plaats told a reporter in February.

“Here's what we are about: We're about anything that works to strengthen families. We want to speak the truth, but we want to do it in love. We aren't about being extremist, or about being fearful, or about being hateful. We are just about being truth and love,” he added.

Vander Plaats, however, did not repudiate the group's claim. And in a new interview with the progressive website he endorsed the idea, saying that gay sex is “a public health risk.”

“When you take a look at it, this isn’t the Family Leader, but say the New York Health Department. They’ve put out an ad basically highlighting all the dangers of the homosexual lifestyle, that you’re this many times more to get this particular disease or this many times more to get this other type of disease. Now, they conclude with 'practice safe sex.' But they’re almost taking our talking points. Because anybody, the Journal of Medicine will back us up on this, that this is a risky lifestyle, health risk lifestyle. If we’re teaching the kids, 'don’t smoke, because that’s a risky health style,' the same can be true of the homosexual lifestyle. That’s why I think we need to speak the truth once in a while.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)