September 1, 2004


Schlafly is still making her point, unabashedly (Anne-Marie O'Connor, 9/01/04, LA Times)

Phyllis Schlafly is a longtime opponent of the gay rights movement.

Over the years, she has warned that the Equal Rights Amendment would lead to a recognition of gay rights. She has said people may demand "restrictions on homosexuals for public health reasons" because of AIDS. She has complained that children's sex-education programs are misused to spread the belief that homosexual sex is acceptable if a condom is used, when educators should "just tell them to keep their hands out of what's inside your swimsuit."

If anyone has helped conservatives nail down the plank in the Republican Party platform opposing same-sex unions, it is this octogenarian stalwart, who emerged as a pivotal force this week behind language calling for a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

And she did it all with the help of the oldest of her six adult children, John Schlafly, 53, her aide de camp, who is gay. [...]

Phyllis Schlafly is a disarming woman, with a genteel but very direct manner. Earlier in the day, she greets a guest in a well-lighted suite of an old-fashioned hotel that is decorated with gilt mirrors and salmon toile. She smooths the skirt of her lavender knit suit, which is set off by a gold elephant pin and another spelling out "GOP." Her blond hair is upswept in a retro marcel wave-style do.

But make no mistake: She is a shrewd political operator who has hammered a raft of conservative planks into a number of Republican Party platforms over the years. Her St. Louis-based Eagle Forum is an influential conservative group.

Christian leader Ralph Reed, the Bush campaign's coordinator for the Southeast region, said Schlafly has been a behind-the-scenes player on GOP platform issues since she began attending as a delegate in the 1950s.

"Given her leadership on the pro-life plank on the platform, she's highly respected and well-regarded and influential," he said. "She's prominent at every convention."

Fellow conservative Gary Bauer said Schlafly's role reflects her stature as a member of the anti-abortion movement, which he said is ardently opposed to gay marriage.

"The whole pro-life movement feels very strongly about that issue, as does the president," he said. "I bet if you asked the delegates to vote, it would be 99%" against same-sex marriage.

Schlafly's son, an attorney by profession, is a paid staffer, she says. He is director of an Eagle Forum office in Alton, Ill., where he lives, and helps her with fundraising, scheduling and mail.

John Schlafly is a soft-spoken man with deep, expressive eyes, whose dark khakis and light cotton shirts rumple quickly in the New York heat. He stops for a moment to collect his thoughts when asked if he supports his mother's signature issue of the week, a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

"I think the traditional definition of marriage has served our society well, and it shouldn't be changed," John Schlafly says, choosing his words slowly. "That was the law in every state, and still is except for certain court decisions. I don't see why there's anything wrong with it."

No one in that convention hall has done more to create the modern conservative majority than the great Mrs. Schlafly. She may well be the most powerful influential woman in American history and pretty much single-handedly defeated the Equal Rights Amendment--you wouldn't want to bet against her defeating gay marriage.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 1, 2004 9:40 AM

I wonder which one of the young, conservative women on the political scene will most likely fill in Phyllis Schlafly's shoes when she retires.
Will it be Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Monica Crowley...etc.?

Posted by: Vince at September 1, 2004 4:28 PM

They're talking heads--she was in the trenches.

Posted by: oj at September 1, 2004 4:32 PM

True - she went to law school, raised her children, and started a movement (back when women didn't do that sort of thing).

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 1, 2004 4:52 PM

Orrin, I guess you are right, but which conservative women are in the trenches?

Posted by: Vince at September 1, 2004 5:04 PM