Since Democrat Perry Thurston was elected to the Florida House of Representatives District 93 in 2006, an examination of his campaign finance records showed a pattern of expenditures to at least two anti-gay churches in Pompano Beach.
Because of redistricting this year, Perry will be running for re-election in District 94, which covers Wilton Manors.
Records show Perry’s campaign has spent more than $2,500 in donations and on advertisements. The bulk of the money was given to Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Pompano Beach.
The Sun-Sentinel reported that the pastor of that church, Anthony Burrell, was active in the 2008 effort that added the ban on same-sex marriage in Florida. Another, arguably more disturbing donation, was made last year to Rev. O’Neal Dozier Ministries. That donation, however, was a mere $250, which paid for an ad celebrating the pastor’s anniversary and birthday.
Dozier is well-known for his anti-gay rhetoric. In January, liberal magazine Mother Jones reported that Dozier referred to homosexuality as "something so nasty and disgusting that it makes God want to vomit."
Dozier, though, is no friend to democrats either, having served as the honorary chairman to Rick Santorum’s state campaign.
In an interview with SFGN, Thurston was adamant that just because some of his campaign’s money has made it into the hands of anti-gay pastors, he is not anti-gay.
“My record speaks for itself. I’m behind anything that expands people’s rights. I try to maintain that position as often as I can,” he said and then referred SFGN to his voting record.
As for Dozier, he said “I don’t agree with Dozier on much.”
Perry went on to say that he believes in gay marriage, and in 2008 actively campaigned against the amendment that eventually banned it in Florida. In fact, he went so far as to create and distribute a palm card opposing the ban.
“I took a lot of flack about that in the community,” he said. “I was in staunch opposition of that amendment. I’ve been for gay marriage as far back as 2008.”
At one point in 2008, Perry remembered walking into a church where the pastor actually changed the sermon to speak in opposition of gay marriage because of Perry’s palm card.
As for the other church mentioned above, Mount Calvary, that’s been Perry’s home church for the past 52 years.
“I’ve been through four ministers at that church,” he said. “They don’t control what I vote for. These ministers are in the community.”
Michael Rajner, a community activist, said he’s worked with Thurston for years and isn’t concerned with the monies Thurston’s campaign spent with the churches.
“He was in a faith-based community. Those were his constituents,” Rajner said.
President of the Dolphin Democrats, Broward County’s LGBT democratic club, Tim Ross said he wasn’t familiar with the issue, but hopes to have Thurston speak to his members to explain what it’s all about.
Perry is running unopposed in the upcoming democratic primary and will face off against openly gay republican Scott Herman in the general election.
Rajner believes it’s Herman’s campaign that is stirring the pot when it comes to Perry’s campaign expenditures.
“Scott Herman’s campaign is trying to make something out of nothing,” Rajner said.
“I honestly thought Perry Thurston was an honorable individual with a few nefarious friends, but apparently his record deserves greater scrutiny from the community than I realized,” Herman said. “He has apparently put his money where his mouth is on LGBT issues.”