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Anti-Gay Movement Reacts to Decision Overturning Arrest of Two Texas Men for Having Sex

Though the religious crusade against gays has been building for 30 years, only now is the movement reaching truly biblical proportions.

On June 26, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the convictions of two Texas men arrested for having sex. Writing for the majority in Lawrence v. Texas, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that the two men were "entitled to respect for their private lives." The state, he declared, "cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime."

The decision was unusually popular. A national survey found that 75% of Republicans and 88% of Democrats wanted to see sodomy laws struck down. But not everyone cheered.

"Six lawyers robed in black have magically discovered a right of privacy that includes sexual perversion," said Jan LaRue, chief counsel for Concerned Women for America. "This opens the door to bigamy, adult incest, polygamy and prostitution," said Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council.

For anti-gay crusaders, who have been fighting gay rights for three decades, Lawrence was the most unsettling court decision since Roe v. Wade. Fundamentalist groups had filed 15 briefs supporting Texas' sodomy laws, only to see their arguments — that gay sex was a threat to public health and "traditional family values," and that gay people do not deserve equal rights — shot down.

And with the Massachusetts Supreme Court widely expected to rule that fall (as it did) that gay citizens had a right to marry under that state's constitution, anti-gay leaders realized the time was ripe to ratchet up their call to arms.

"America stands at a defining moment," said Lou Sheldon, founder of the Traditional Values Coalition. "The only comparison is our battle for independence."

The anti-gay movement was about to show why many believe it is, in the words of longtime religious right observer Frederick Clarkson, "the best-organized faction in politics." Immediately after the Lawrence decision, D. James Kennedy, president of Coral Ridge Ministries, issued a call to arms.

Now that America's courts were "officially off-limits to the moral framework that has allowed us to enjoy freedom and prosperity," Kennedy said the holy war on gay rights should be renewed on the battlefront of public opinion, pressing for a federal marriage amendment.

For right-wing evangelical ministries like Coral Ridge, which brings in more than $35 million annually, the stakes were never higher. Since the late 1970s, attacks on gay people and their "agenda" had helped to fuel, and pay for, the fundamentalist right's unprecedented rise to political power.

From Lawrence to Election Day, when 11 states voted on anti-gay marriage amendments, groups like Coral Ridge and Focus on the Family spent millions on ad campaigns and get-out-the-vote efforts, while gay marriage and "family values" became staples of cable-TV and talk-radio crossfire.

These anti-gay messages were nothing new. For almost 30 years, the religious right in America has employed a variety of strategies, inside the courtroom and outside, in its efforts to beat back the increasingly confident gay rights movement.

Many of its leaders have engaged in the crudest type of name-calling, describing homosexuals as "perverts" with "filthy habits" who seek to snatch the children of straight parents and "convert" them to gay sex. They have continually bandied about disparaging "facts" about gays that are simply untrue — assertions that are remarkably reminiscent of the way white intellectuals and scientists once wrote about the "bestial" black man.

But never has the anti-gay movement had the momentum it has now, and never has it been so close to achieving its larger, ultimate goal. That goal is winning, in the words of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, a "second civil war" for control of the U.S. government.

The Power of the Sword
At the height of the civil rights movement, in 1965, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, an ambitious young minister in Lynchburg, Va., gave a sermon called "Ministers and Marches."

Falwell laid into Christian leaders who were actively supporting civil rights, reminding them of a Bible verse that fundamentalists often invoked as evidence that God did not want them to participate in politics: "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh" (II Corinthians 10:13).

Fourteen years later, Falwell co-founded the Moral Majority, the first national effort to stimulate fundamentalist political participation and elect candidates who would, in the words of co-founder Paul Weyrich, "Christianize America."

What explained this apparent sea change? While fundamentalist Christians had long stayed out of electoral politics, Falwell and many others were "extremely unhappy with the 'rights' movements that had sprung up in the '50s and '60s," says Didi Herman, author of The Antigay Agenda.

"First black people, then women, now gay people? The frustration had been mounting. Their actions were catching up with their view."

Falwell was plain enough about his views; in 1964, he told a local paper that the Civil Rights Act had been misnamed: "It should be considered civil wrongs rather than civil rights." His "Old Time Gospel Hour" TV program hosted prominent segregationists like Govs. Lester Maddox of Georgia and George Wallace of Alabama.

But Falwell, like other fundamentalists, worried about "tainting" his religious message by mixing it with politics.

The Rev. Mel White (see also A Thorn in Their Side), an evangelical writer and filmmaker who ghostwrote Falwell's autobiography, says Falwell was led to politics in part by Dr. Francis Schaeffer, a rebellious fundamentalist who had begun spreading the word about "dominion theology" and who many see as the father of the anti-abortion movement.

Dubbed the "Guru of Fundamentalists" by Newsweek in 1982, Schaeffer believed that Christians are called to rule the U.S. — and the world — using biblical law. That meant winning elections.

"Dr. Schaeffer," says White, "convinced Jerry there was no biblical mandate against joining with 'nonbelievers' in a political cause."

Schaeffer was admired by a radical group of fundamentalist thinkers called Christian Reconstructionists. Led by Orthodox Presbyterian minister R.J. Rushdoony, the Reconstructionists argued that the Second Coming couldn't occur until the faithful established a "Biblical kingdom."

Democracy, which Rushdoony called "the great love of the failures and cowards of life," would be replaced by strict Old Testament law — meaning the death penalty for homosexuality, along with a host of other "abominations," including heresy, astrology, and (for women only) "unchastity before marriage."

D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries, like James Dobson of Focus on the Family and other Christian Right luminaries, unwaveringly preaches "dominion Christianity" and hosts an annual conference devoted to "Reclaiming America for Christ."

Kennedy also is a longtime benefactor of former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, known for the Ten Commandments monument he installed in the rotunda of that state's judicial building — and for being thrown out of office after refusing to obey federal court orders to remove it.

In 2002, Moore wrote a lengthy concurrence in a custody case involving a lesbian mother. After describing homosexuality as "abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature," Moore asserted that "[t]he State carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit [homosexual] conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle."

Fear Mongering to the Fore
While conservative Christians have led historic crusades against a number of "evils" in America — witchcraft, alcohol, communism, feminism, abortion — gay sex was never more than a minor concern until 1969, when protests in New York City launched the contemporary gay-rights movement.

In Where We Stand, Susan Fort Wiltshire recalls some early stirrings of a new crusade: "Around 1970, ambitious small-town preachers in the Northwest Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church began to exploit 'the gay issue.' They saw that virulent anti-gay rhetoric could fill football stadiums for revivals in such tiny Panhandle towns as Tulia and Clarendon and Higgins and Perryton."

The crusade went national in 1977, courtesy of Anita Bryant. The perky spokesperson for Coca-Cola, Tupperware and Florida orange juice, Bryant had converted a runner-up finish in the 1959 Miss America pageant into a lucrative career singing "wholesome family music."

Bryant later said she knew next to nothing about gay people when she attended a 1977 revival at Miami's Northside Baptist Church. The preacher railed against a new ordinance in Dade County that protected gay people from discrimination, saying he'd "burn down his church before he would let homosexuals teach in its school."

Bryant was so impressed by the dangers of this new "homosexual agenda" that she launched an initiative to overturn the anti-discrimination ordinance, winning with a 70% vote.

Bryant then founded a national group called Save Our Children and took her anti-gay message on the road, helping fundamentalists organize anti-gay ballot campaigns in the handful of American cities that had passed gay rights laws. These ballot initiatives would become the single most important organizing tool for the fundamentalist right, transforming thousands of previously apolitical churchgoers into grassroots activists.

Save Our Children's primary tactic was fear mongering. Gay people were "sick," "perverted," "twisted," and a threat to American families.

"Homosexuals cannot reproduce," Bryant often said, "so they must recruit. And to freshen their ranks they must recruit the youth of America."

Save Our Children distributed a press kit with a paper titled, "Why Certain Sexual Deviations Are Punishable By Death." Homosexuality was, of course, among those deviations. So was "racial mixing of human seed."

Save Our Children collapsed in 1979, after Bryant had a well-publicized divorce and breakdown, but not before her success in getting national publicity and large donations caught the eye of new-right strategists like Paul Weyrich and Richard Viguerie, the pioneer of right-wing direct-mail fundraising.

"Their other issues just weren't nearly as popular," says Rob Boston, assistant communications director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and author of Close Encounters with the Religious Right.

"Most Americans supported abortion rights. Nobody believed communism inside the U.S. was really a threat. Slamming feminists, you risked alienating half the population. But gay people? Anita Bryant showed that gay-bashing could bring in some real money."

Bryant had also outlined a new gay stereotype, one far removed from the old cliché of limp-wristed "fruits." Inspired by Bryant, budding "family activist" Tim LaHaye painted a full-blown portrait in his 1978 book, The Unhappy Gays.

LaHaye, now famous for co-authoring the blockbuster Left Behind series of end-of-the-world thrillers, wrote that succumbing to the demands of the gay-rights movement would be a mistake of apocalyptic proportions — literally.

"The mercy and grace of God seem to reach their breaking point when homosexuality becomes normal," LaHaye said. "Put another way, when sodomy fills the national cup of man's abominations to overflowing, God earmarks that nation for destruction."

The cover of The Unhappy Gays featured a close-up photograph of rusty chains, symbolizing the "captivity" of homosexuality. "Moral fidelity among homosexuals is almost unknown," LaHaye wrote, citing as evidence "one psychologist writer" (unnamed) who "suggests that is not uncommon for a homosexual to 'have sex' with as many as 2,000 different people in a lifetime."

This "incredible promiscuity" leads to a life of lonely, selfish desperation, said LaHaye, but there is hope: "Homosexuals are made, not born!" and can be cured by being "born again."

Facts and Fiction
There was something missing from these dark depictions of gay people and their "agenda": evidence. It was one thing, after all, to claim that homosexuals were child "recruiters," disease-ridden, and mentally unstable. It was quite another to prove it.

Enter Paul Cameron. After losing his job teaching psychology at the University of Nebraska, Cameron set himself up as an independent sex researcher in the late 1970s, churning out scores of anti-gay pamphlets that were largely distributed in fundamentalist churches.

Cameron's "studies" falsely concluded that gay people were disproportionately responsible for child molestation, for the majority of serial killings, and for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Gay people, according to Cameron's research, were obsessed with consuming human excrement, allowing them to spread deadly diseases simply by shaking hands with unsuspecting strangers or using public restrooms.

"Of all the vices," Cameron concluded in a pamphlet called Medical Aspects of Homosexuality, "only homosexuality constitutes a conspiracy against society."

Cameron's brand of "science" echoed Nazi Germany. "These themes of disease and seduction are strongly reminiscent of older, anti-Semitic discourse," writes Didi Herman in The Antigay Agenda. "Jews historically were associated with disease, filth, urban degeneration, and child stealing."

When the AIDS crisis broke out in the early 1980s, Cameron claimed gay people had unleashed "an octopus of infection spreading across the world," and had done it on purpose. (Jerry Falwell put it in simpler terms; he called AIDS "the gay plague.")

In several newspaper and magazine exposés, Cameron's studies were revealed to be anything but scientific. In one particularly egregious instance, Cameron published a 1983 study claiming lesbians were 29 times more likely than heterosexual women to intentionally infect their sex partners with venereal diseases. It was later discovered that Cameron's "scientific sample" for this conclusion consisted of just seven women.

After being expelled from the American Psychological Association in 1983 for violating ethical standards in his anti-gay publications Cameron began referring to himself as a sociologist — until the American Sociological Association passed a 1986 resolution declaring, "Paul Cameron is not a sociologist, and [this group] condemns his constant misrepresentation of sociological research."

But despite the crackpot nature of Cameron's theories and methodology, his "research" was extolled by many in the religious right. In 1986, Summit Ministries, a right-wing Christian group in Colorado, distributed a booklet called Special Report: AIDS, co-written by Cameron, Summit leader David Noebel and Wayne Lutton (Lutton would later be an editor for an anti-immigrant hate group, the Social Contract Press, and act as editorial advisor to the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens).

Special Report argued for a drastic solution: locking up "practicing homosexuals" in the name of public health. After all, the authors wrote, "During World War II we exiled Americans of Japanese ancestry simply because we felt they were a national threat during time of war."

Since AIDS has made gay people a "threat to our national survival," they wrote, "We might well prepare holding camps for all sexually active homosexuals with special camps for homosexuals with AIDS."

Right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan and William Bennett, secretary of education in the Reagan administration, were publicly embarrassed when they touted Cameron's 1993 study claiming that gay men have only a 42-year life expectancy. As reporters soon discovered, Cameron had based the study on obituaries printed in gay newspapers — hardly a valid sample.

Even so, just like many of Cameron's other "findings," the life-expectancy study continues to be cited as an established fact by anti-gay leaders like Focus on the Family's James Dobson, whose grasp of the facts was called into question earlier this year after Dobson warned that the popular cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants, who lives in a pineapple under the sea, was being used by gay rights proponents to promote the acceptance of homosexuality.

(Dobson made the comments at a Jan. 19 black-tie dinner in Washington, D.C., where Focus on the Family political allies, including several members of Congress, celebrated last November's election results. "The video itself is innocent enough and does not mention anything overtly sexual," Dobson wrote in a statement released amidst the SpongeBob furor. "But while the video is harmless on its own, I believe the agenda behind it is sinister.")

Victory and Defeat
To the dismay of the anti-gay crusaders, polls showed rising public support for gay rights throughout the '80s and '90s. As a result, the crusaders began to rethink their message. "They finally started to realize the 'diseased pervert' rhetoric wasn't going to win over the majority of Americans," says Close Encounters with the Religious Right author Rob Boston.

In Colorado Springs, home to more than 50 Christian Right organizations by 1991, a whole new anti-gay strategy was being cooked up by Colorado For Family Values, organizers of Amendment 2, a statewide ballot initiative that would overturn gay anti-discrimination laws that had been passed by three Colorado towns and prevent any such future protections from being passed.

Realizing the old arguments weren't working, one of Amendment 2's organizers, a born-again "ex-hippie" attorney named Tony Marco, produced a fresh argument: "special rights."

"What gives gay militants their enormous power are money and the operative presumption that gays represent some kind of 'oppressed minority,'" Marco wrote. He recommended "demolishing the presumption that gays are an 'oppressed minority.'"

The best way to do that, Marco believed, was to drum up resentment against gay people — particularly among African Americans and working-class whites — by portraying them as wanting "special rights."

In a 1992 issue of Focus on the Family's Citizen magazine, Marco began making an economic case that gay people already had privileges that most Americans could only dream of. "Homosexuals have an average household income of $55,340," he wrote, "versus $32,144 for the general population and $12,166 for disadvantaged African-American households."

Marco's numbers were grossly misleading and, like Cameron's crackpot science, reminiscent of anti-Semitic propaganda about Jews. His source for gay income was a 1988 survey of gay magazine readers — a skewed sample, The Antigay Agenda author Didi Herman notes, because "readers of glossy gay men's magazines are likely to be among the most affluent members of the gay and lesbian community."

Amendment 2 got a major boost in 1991, when James Dobson began to push it on his daily radio show. Dobson had moved his multimedia empire to a campus in Colorado Springs that same year. Known to most Americans as a soft-spoken purveyor of homespun parenting advice, Dobson was now displaying a much tougher side.

In 1990, Focus' Citizen magazine had published a special issue, declaring the '90s "the Civil War Decade." With the fall of Soviet communism, Dobson wrote, the Cold War would be replaced by a "culture war" fought on three fronts: abortion, public education and homosexuality.

"Children are the prize to the winner of this second civil war," wrote Dobson and his Washington lobbyist, the Family Research Council's Gary Bauer, in Children at Risk, also published that same year. "We are to be intolerant of evil," Dobson told his radio audience in 1994. "Romans 12:9 says, 'Learn to be sincere. Hate what is evil'" (Dobson's emphasis).

When Dobson began pushing Amendment 2, its organizers had been struggling to get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. Overnight, the campaign was flooded with volunteers and money. Amendment 2 won by a 53%-47% margin.

The anti-gay movement had won a major round — in the court of public opinion, at least. In 1996, Amendment 2 was overturned by the u.s. Supreme Court in Evans v. Romer. Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority decision began with a pointed reference to Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 decision that allowed "separate but equal" treatment of black people and ushered in the Jim Crow era.

The Colorado amendment, Kennedy wrote, imposed a "special disability" on gay men and lesbians, and constituted "a bare ... desire to harm a politically unpopular group."

But by then, the anti-gay movement had been thoroughly energized. In 1994, in what The Washington Times called "two days of top-secret meetings," around 35 state and national anti-gay leaders had convened in Colorado Springs. Bringing "greetings from Dr. Dobson," Focus on the Family's John Eldridge led things off by presenting a five-point plan to spread the anti-gay message.

"We must never appear to be mean-spirited or bigoted," he said. But as he wound up his exhortation, Eldridge sounded a different note. "I would not say this in other cultural contexts," he said, "but the gay agenda has all the elements of that which is evil. It is deceptive at every turn. It is destroying the souls and lives of those who embrace it."

Calling Names
Old-school gay-bashing did not die away with the rise of the "special rights" strategizing. If anything, the rhetoric was ratcheted up in the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton's proposal to lift the ban on gay military service inspired a verbal arms race.

Gary Bauer took the lead, sprinkling his fundraising appeals and Web-site columns with references to gay people as "perverts" and "weirdness on parade." On "The 700 Club," Pat Robertson said Clinton's proposal would give "preferred status to evil."

Jerry Falwell worried aloud that if the ban were lifted, "our poor boys on the front lines will have to face two different enemies, one from the front and one from the rear."

Fundraising appeals became increasingly outrageous. In January 1998, Christian Action Network founder Martin Mawyer wrote:

The title character in the ABC-TV sitcom Ellen came out of the closet ... AND DUMPED HER FILTHY LESBIAN LIFESTYLE RIGHT IN THE CENTER OF YOUR LIVING ROOM!! IT'S THE FIRST TIME IN THE HISTORY OF NETWORK TV THAT THE LEAD CHARACTER IS A SODOMITE!! ... Do you think TV ever portrays homosexuals as they really are? Having sex with hundreds of perverts in 'one-night stands' ... spreading their filthy sex diseases to millions of people ... molesting innocent children ... flaunting their grotesque lifestyle ... committing murder and sex crimes more than any other group of people.

In July 1998, Pat Robertson warned the citizens of Orlando, Fla., that if Disney World didn't cancel "Gay Day," their city would be subject to God's wrath, in the form of "terrorist bombs, earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor."

That same July, D. James Kennedy's Center for Reclaiming America, the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family and other anti-gay groups launched a million-dollar ad campaign to promote "ex-gay" ministries specializing in "curing" lesbians and gay men of their sexual orientation (see Curious Cures).

The ex-gay campaign was partly designed to reinforce the message that fundamentalists truly "love the sinner but hate the sin." Ex-gay people were also an essential part of the "special rights" campaign, their existence cited as proof that homosexuality was not genetic, but a matter of choice.

Most of the ex-gay ministries promoted in the campaign, including Exodus International, practiced "reparative therapy," a collection of methods that had long been thoroughly discredited in the world of psychology.

Still, the ex-gay ads made a splash. John and Anne Paulk, the ex-gay Focus on the Family employees who were featured in the campaign, landed on the cover of Newsweek, which asked, "Gay for Life?" A year later, John Paulk was photographed hurrying out of Mr. P's, a gay bar in Washington, D.C., joining dozens of other ex-gay leaders who had suffered embarrassing relapses.

The board of directors for Exodus International quickly removed Paulk as the group's chairman, despite his protestations that he had "no sinful intentions" in visiting Mr. P's.

'The Ultimate Ex-Gay'
On Oct. 6, 1998, one day before D. James Kennedy's anti-gay coalition put out a second round of ex-gay TV ads, 21-year-old college student Matthew Shepard was savagely murdered in Wyoming. Journalists jumped on the connection between the ex-gay campaign and the prejudice that fuels hate crimes.

"You call a group of people evil and sick and immoral often enough and some nutcase out there is going to act on it," wrote columnist Donald Kaul in the Des Moines Register.

The Advocate, a gay newsmagazine, pointedly called Shepard "the ultimate ex-gay."

A counter-attack was not long in coming. In an Orlando Sun-Sentinel op-ed, Gary Bauer accused the "militant homosexual lobby" of a "new McCarthyism" with its claims that anti-gay rhetoric leads to violence. Pat Buchanan agreed: "The left is now using Mr. Shepard's murder both to diabolize Christian teachings on homosexuality and to impose on society its own moral code."

The Family Research Council, along with other anti-gay groups, had often cited a similar fear of being demonized as its rationale for opposing hate-crime laws, asserting that hate crimes legislation would lead to "thought crime" prosecutions of Christians. In 1996, sparked by the fact that Hawaii seemed to be close to legalizing gay marriage, a related argument was deployed — the idea that legalization ultimately would lead to hate crimes prosecutions of Christians who opposed homosexuality.

In January of that year, more than 20 anti-gay groups, including Focus on the Family and the Christian Coalition, sent representatives to a church cellar in Memphis, Tenn., for the first secret meeting of the National Pro-Family Forum. The Forum, which continued to meet every three months, scored a symbolic victory that fall, when its members convinced Congress to pass the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Writing in support of DOMA, Bauer predicted that gay marriage would have dire consequences for Americans of faith: "If they succeed, all distinctions based on sex may fall, and the worst aspects of the rejected Equal Rights Amendment will be imposed. Homosexuals will gain the 'right' to adopt children; ... churches will be pushed outside civil law; and government power will be wielded against anyone who holds the biblical view of homosexuality."

Forest Fire
After the Supreme Court legalized sodomy in 2003, the gay marriage battle was on, with anti-gay crusaders once again sharpening their knives of dire rhetoric.

"Our great nation is under violent attack from within," said Stephen Bennett, Christian singer and ex-gay minister. "We are now at the 11th hour, a point of no return."

"What's at stake here," said Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, "is the very foundation of our society, not only of America but all Western civilization."

"I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry," said the Rev. Jimmy Swaggart. "And I'm gonna be blunt and plain: if one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died."

From the 2003 Texas sodomy decision until Election Day 2004, the gay-marriage debate seemed to bring out the warrior in everyone. The anti-gay campaign, said Human Rights Campaign Executive Director Cheryl Jacques, was marked by "the highest level of intensity and aggression ever."

In the 11 states where anti-gay marriage measures were on the ballot, television ads urged voters to "defend marriage." In Ohio, Phil Burress' anti-gay group gathered 575,000 signatures in fewer than 90 days to put their constitutional amendment on the ballot. "It's a forest fire with a 100-mile-per-hour wind behind it," Burress told The New York Times.

Just five months after Lawrence vs. Texas, the Pew Research Center found that opposition to gay marriage had climbed from 53 to 59%. A new majority of Americans, 55%, now characterized gay sex as a sin. Thirty years of anti-gay crusades had begun to pay.

As Election Day drew near, James Dobson was taking no chances. His political spin-off group, Focus on the Family Action, organized large rallies in six cities last fall, attracting crowds even Anita Bryant couldn't muster. Three weeks before the election, about 150,000 turned out for Dobson's "Mayday for Marriage" rally in Washington, D.C.

On Oct. 22 in Oklahoma City, Dobson brought the crowd to its feet with a message that Bryant might have delivered in 1977. "Homosexuals are not monogamous," he said. "They want to destroy the institution of marriage. It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the earth."

On Nov. 2, the anti-gay marriage amendments passed handily in all 11 states — including Ohio, the state that ultimately swung the election in George W. Bush's favor. Many commentators argued that the huge voter turnout in that pivotal battleground state — and therefore George W. Bush's victory — was due largely to the anti-gay amendment driving conservative voters to the polls in record numbers.

"Just a year ago, justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that same-sex couples have the legal right to marry. George W. Bush is thanking them today," Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi wrote November 4.

The week after the election, Burress called anti-gay leaders together in Washington to start planning for 10 state amendment campaigns in 2005, while other fundamentalist power brokers made it clear to Bush as he prepared for his second term that they expected some return for their considerable investment, including his unwavering support for an amendment to the United States Constitution banning gay marriage nationwide.

"In your re-election, God has graciously granted America — though she doesn't deserve it — a reprieve from paganism," wrote Bob Jones II, President of Bob Jones University, in an open letter of congratulations to President Bush.

"You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be heard with the clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Undoubtedly you will have the opportunity to appoint many conservative judges and exercise forceful leadership with the Congress in passing legislation that is defined by biblical norms regarding the family and sexuality.

"You have four years to leave an imprint for righteousness upon this nation that brings with it the blessings of Almighty God."