Sunday, March 9, 2003

Burk receives award, maintains campaign against Augusta

By Joseph White
The Associated Press

McLEAN, Va. - Martha Burk set a Tuesday deadline for local authorities reviewing her request to protest during the Masters, saying she'll sue if she doesn't get an answer by then.

Burk, lead critic of Augusta National Golf Club's all-male membership, spoke Saturday after receiving a leadership award at The Women's Center's 18th annual conference.

She wants permission for a group to protest April 12 during the third round, but did not specify whom she would sue.

"It was a very reasonable request," Burk said. "We only asked for 12 people around the gates, and we asked for 200 across the street, which as protests go, is not very many people. I don't think we need a huge crowd to make our point."

Twenty-four people would protest at the gate to Magnolia Lane and 200 others would stand along Washington Road, the main thoroughfare for Masters visitors across the street from the club.

Sheriff Ronald Strength has said that allowing demonstrations on the road could pose a safety hazard.

Burk, head of the National Council of Women's Organizations, got a sense of what impact a dozen protesters could make as she entered the hotel.

A group of men who called themselves "duffragettes," representing the D.C. Chapter of the National Coalition of Free Men, demonstrated with signs.

"They got the 'duh'-part right," said Burk, who took a picture of the men before moving on.

Burk said she also receives calls from unknown men on her cell phone in the middle of night, voicing their displeasure over her stand.

"A guy called me at 4 a.m." Burk said. "He said, 'Hey woman, why don't you come over here and wash my dishes?'"

Burk's speech reiterated her long-standing theme equating gender discrimination with racial discrimination. She said she was aware of Augusta chairman Hootie Johnson's record on civil rights, but she said that did not excuse him from barring women from joining his club.

"He's trying to buy a pass on sex discrimination with his past good work on civil rights," Burk said.

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