Kalley King Yanta, a former anchor for a Minneapolis-based television station and an anti-abortion-rights activist, has joined the Minnesota for Marriage group to anchor videos intended to convince Minnesotans to vote for the anti-gay-marriage amendment on the ballot in 2012. The videos -- and Yanta -- have come under immediate scrutiny.
“The Minnesota Marriage Minute videos are an exciting opportunity to promote a respectful dialogue about the future of marriage in Minnesota,” said John Helmberger, chairman of Minnesota for Marriage, in a recent statement announcing the videos.
“We especially want to thank Kalley Yanta, a veteran former news anchor and devoted mother for volunteering her time to make these important videos,” said Helmberger. “We are grateful for Kalley’s faithful commitment to preserving marriage in Minnesota and for her experience and poise in presenting the various topics. We are confident that she will be well received by Minnesotans across the State.”
The first video in the series is an introduction:
Yanta launched her new project with Minnesota for Marriage on Pastor Brad Brandon's "Word of Truth" radio show on Wednesday.
"This is a big deal," she said of the anti-gay marriage amendment. "People need to really pay attention to this."
Yanta said they've taped 30 of the "marriage minutes" and are considering also creating radio and television spots. The Minnesota for Marriage group asked her to be the "face" of the effort, she told Brandon.
She also said she signed up for the project because of her own marriage and that fact that same-sex parents are harmful to children.
"I feel very, very grateful to have a good marriage," Yanta told Brandon. "I want to be a part of ... preserving that as our definition of marriage in Minnesota. ... There are many efforts under way to tear apart the foundation of our society, which is the family.
"Thirty-one states across the nation have taken up this amendment and all have passed it, so if Minnesota doesn't, we'd be the first not to, and that sets a precedent for the rest of the nation, and we don't want to do that" she continued.
Yanta refuted the idea that same-sex parents can raise healthy, well-adjusted children, referring to a conversation she had with a "very prominent CEO of a major metropolitan hospital here in town," who defended gay parenting.
"I have beg to differ with that opinion," she said. "There are studies that are being conducted right now about how children are being raised and how that affects somebody in their psyche and in their self-esteem and in the various ways that that can affect a person being raised by either a man and a man or a woman and a woman. It's not natural."
Yanta also said that if the amendment doesn't pass, Christian parents could be arrested.
"If marriage between homosexuals is legalized, what would some of the consequences be?" she asked rhetorically. "Parents who want to opt their kids out of the public school on the day that they're teaching about homosexual relationships how it should be okay and accepted, and the parents are charged with discrimination and are hauled away sometimes in handcuffs. ... We just can't allow this to happen.
"We all need to have courage when it comes to speaking the truth," she continued, noting that, so far, she hasn't received any backlash from the videos.
But while Yanta may not have received backlash, the videos have.
Minnesotans United for All Families, a coalition of more than 100 groups, analyzed the images in the first video released and determined that not a single person in the video was actually from Minnesota.
"While this video is full of stock images, it is strangely lacking in real Minnesotans," the group said on its Facebook page. "Perhaps they couldn't find any real Minnesotans willing to support their divisive agenda?"
One image appears to have been taken by a French photographer of a French family, and another is being used on the website of an India-based health-care center.
Most of the images were purchased through low-budget stock-photo websites.
And it's not the first time a group affiliated with the National Organization for Marriage (NOM is one of three groups that make up Minnesota for Marriage) used stock photos to misrepresent support for their cause. In 2011, the group's New Hampshire affiliate used images from a rally featuring Barack Obama and passed them off as their own rallies.
The Minnesota for Marriage videos are not Kalley's first foray into conservative Christian issue-oriented video production.
She has recently produced documentaries that express aimed her anti-abortion beliefs. In a November video, Yanta accuses Planned Parenthood of building "clandestine" and secretive headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota's Midway neighborhood. The video compares the Planned Parenthood construction to the Nazis' Auschwitz concentration camp complex.
Yanta's video also discusses "post abortion syndrome," a controversial notion that women experience higher rates of mental illness following an abortion. The video portrays it as a real illness, despite recent scientific research to the contrary. A study in January 2011, for instance, showed that women do not have a higher risk of mental illness after having an abortion. In fact, studies that have shown a link often have neglected to assess the mental health of the women prior to them becoming pregnant.
Yanta courted controversy in the late 1990s, when as the anchor of KSTP-TV, a Minneapolis ABC affiliate, she had to cancel a speaking engagement with a group called Concerned Citizens for Action, an anti-abortion group that would later become Pro-Life Action Ministries, an entity that Yanta has worked with for several years. The station did not say why the news anchor had to cancel the appearance, but Yanta later told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the event created the appearance of bias for the anchor.
She's also been involved in Total Life Care Centers, a network of crisis pregnancy centers in Minnesota, many of which are state-funded despite providing information that medical experts and reproductive rights advocates have called false and misleading.
Photo: Screen shot of Kalley Yanta anchoring "Minnesota Marriage Minute: Episode 1" (Source: minnesotaformarriage.org)