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This is the homophobic bigot that pushed the Ohio anti-gay marriage amendment — and he's not stopping at that



Yet another ignorant, self-appointed “moralist” that wants you to live his way or hit the highway. He’s a former porn addict. Photo: Lauren Victoria Burke for The NYT.

Remember this guy and others of his ilk. Phil Burress is a name to remember, not only for Ohioans — we all have to work hard to stop this bastard n-o-w. After Victory, Crusader Against Same-Sex Marriage Thinks Big. (NYT)

The warning call came in December 1995. “Do you folks on the mainland know what is going on here?” a friend from Hawaii asked Phil Burress, an antipornography crusader from the suburbs of Cincinnati.

Mr. Burress confessed that he did not. “They’re going to legalize gay marriage here, and it’s coming your way,” the friend said, referring to a case before the Hawaii Supreme Court dealing with the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Mr. Burress, a self-described former pornography addict, had spent much of the 1990’s fighting strip clubs and X-rated bookstores. But here was something he saw as a potentially greater threat to his fundamentalist Christian beliefs and traditional family values: something he called the “gay agenda.”

“We saw a stepped program, a plan by gay advocates,” Mr. Burress recalled. “It would lead to homosexuality being taught in schools as equal to heterosexuality. And we saw that what they couldn’t get from legislatures they would try to get by going to court.”

And so Mr. Burress became a Paul Revere for the movement against same-sex marriage, not only sounding warnings across the land but also laying the groundwork for a church-based conservative movement that he hopes will transform Ohio politics for years to come.

Just days after their thundering victories in the fall elections, Mr. Burress and other Christian conservative leaders met in Washington to discuss next year’s constitutional amendment battles, which will focus on about 10 states, including Arizona, Florida and Kansas. They hope those fights will be the prelude to their real goal: amending the United States Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage, which could take years.

Beyond that, Mr. Burress plans to take his grass-roots movement in Ohio to a new level, using a computer database of 1.5 million voters to build a network of Christian conservative officials, candidates and political advocates.

He envisions holding town-hall-style meetings early next year in Ohio’s 88 counties to identify issues, recruit organizers and train volunteers. With a cadre of 15 to 20 leaders in each county, he says he believes religious conservatives can be running school boards, town councils and county prosecutors’ offices across the state within a few years.

Kelly J. Shackelford, president of the Free Market Foundation, a conservative group that is pushing for a marriage amendment in Texas, calls Mr. Burress one of the movement’s heroes because he went up against some of Ohio’s most powerful Republicans, including Gov. Bob Taft, who opposed the amendment.

Though he strongly supported Mr. Bush’s re-election, Mr. Burress says he is furious that powerful Republicans like Governor Taft, Attorney General Jim Petro and Senators George V. Voinovich and Mike DeWine opposed Ohio’s marriage amendment. (They asserted that the amendment would harm Ohio businesses by prohibiting employee benefits for domestic partners.)

Mr. Burress attacked those Republicans as “enablers” of what he calls the homosexual agenda, and he has vowed to run candidates against them and anyone else who opposes what he considers pro-family, antiabortion or anti-gay-rights policies.

“I’m not an R or a D,” he said. “Both parties are driven by selfishness. They are run by people who are Republican or Democrat because it benefits them or their jobs. Our movement will be built on passion, on values, on fire-in-the-belly morals.”

Wake up queer folk and allies. This is war — the other side is not going to stop and are working night and day. The economic card that the Republican officials played in Ohio was the right tactic, in my opinion, but it wasn’t played strongly enough. I think one state that would be receptive to this would be North Carolina. This is a Red state unlike most in that it contributes more in taxes that it takes back. The economic engines that drives this state are the technical, medical and scientific hubs in the Triangle area and the banking and businesses in the Charlotte area. These areas voted blue. The areas that went Red are the rural textile and agricultural areas of the state.

If a Super-DOMA is proposed (again) in a state like NC, it would be economic suicide to pass it; both sides know that if it goes to a popular vote, it would win. The key is to lobby and ally with the universities and businesses with a strong base here, such as Duke, IBM, Nortel, etc. — all of which have same-sex-equivalent policies that would be wiped away with passage of an amendment such as Ohio’s. Mobilized out of the box, they would have a strong influence on state legislators. These NC politicians know who pays the bills in this state, despite the high level of political wingnuts. But we cannot be complacent.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding