Phil Burress of the Ohio-based group Citizens for Community Values was outraged last year when Sen. Rob Portman came out in favor of marriage equality, even urging the senator to put his son in ex-gay therapy.
This weekend, while speaking with Mission America’s Linda Harvey, Burress said that if more Republicans announce their support for marriage equality or merely offer muted opposition to marriage rights, then he and other conservatives will leave the GOP.
“You can put a cross on the grave of the Republican Party if they ditch this issue, it would be the same thing with the life issue,” he said. “If they’re not going to stand for life and natural marriage, Huckabee was the first one that came out and said that he would not only leave the Republican Party but he’ll take everybody with him. The Republicans had better take this serious because this is a nonnegotiable issue with us.”
Burress — whose group is the Ohio affiliate of the Family Research Council and of Focus on the Family’s political arm Citizenlink — predicted that Portman will lose his race for reelection because of his marriage equality support: “I find this rather amusing, he stands no chance whatsoever. He’s seen his numbers, he knows what his numbers are and so do we. He is basically lost, he’s not even going to hold his own seat in ‘16.”
“People will vote but they just will not vote for somebody who’s wrong on these nonnegotiable issues. If they’re wrong on life, marriage or religious freedom, they’ll go to the polls and vote but they just won’t vote for them,” he said. “I have been saying this and screaming it from the treetops: If Rob Portman decides to run in the primary in 2016, he is on the ballot in 2016, Ohio will again have two Democratic senators. This is not our fault, this is his fault if we lose this seat.”
Burress warned that if a primary challenger to Portman does emerge, the GOP “will still spend millions of dollars to support him” against an anti-gay opponent.
“Rob Portman stands no chance of being president, this is a hoax,” Burress said of the rumored Portman presidential campaign, adding that “there’s between 24 and 26 percent of the voters that go to the polls in Ohio [who] are evangelical Christians and if you lose that base then you’re dead.”
He attributed Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss in Ohio to the former governor’s “flip flops” on social issues, saying evangelical Christians “did not trust Romney.”