Breaking down the chasm


 They are two political titans who wield vast influence in Iowa’s political sphere, each with incredibly different social viewpoints.

Among LGBTQ circles, One Iowa executive director Donna Red Wing is seen as a champion of equal rights.

And across the marriage spectrum, Bob Vander Plaats, a Christian conservative titan who heads up The Family Leader organization, has derided gay rights.

But Today from the Des Moines Social Club’s Kum & Go Theater, Red Wing and Vander Plaats will come together to discuss how their cordial relationship began and how others can learn from it.

“I have been surprised by the extraordinary level of public interest in the quiet conversations Bob and I have had over the last two years,” said Red Wing, in a Wednesday statement announcing the event. “I think people crave civility, especially in the pubic square and especially around profound issues and deeply held beliefs.”

The two leaders will share what they have learned from their relationship and how it can be used to open civil dialogues among those who hold contrasting views.

Since a summer ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to expand gay marriage rights to all 50 states, some national organizations have looked at establishing unique conversations with contrasting viewpoints.

Focus on the Family, a Colorado Springs, Colorado.-based Christian conservative outlet, has sought to bridge the equality gaps by deploying less-direct anti-gay marriage undertones.

Wednesday’s event — a free gathering open to the media and the public — is a part of the “Give a Damn, Des Moines” series. The endeavor — sponsored by the Des Moines Register and the Des Moines Social Club — is geared at spurring civic engagement.

— by Quentin Misiag

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