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BRAVO MERRILL!

WALL ST. SCION IN TAX PROTEST MULTI-millionaire blueblood Charles Merrill has devised a novel way to protest President Bush's proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage: He's stopped paying his taxes.

The eccentric Merrill, 71 - whose cousin, Charles Merrill, founded Merrill Lynch, and whose late wife, Evangeline, was the only daughter of Johnson & Johnson founder Robert Wood Johnson - is refusing to file tax returns for 2004 or 2005 and wants other wealthy gays to join him.

"My partner and I believe marriage is when two people love each other regardless of their sexual organs," Merrill tells PAGE SIX from his home in the hills of North Carolina. "We're paying first-class taxes to be treated like second-class citizens and we're sick of it."

Merrill, whose paternal line stretches back to Nathaniel Merrill, an immigrant to the Massachusetts Bay Colony from England in 1620, says it all comes down to "taxation without representation."

"According to the General Accounting Office, there are over 1,049 protections and incentives extended to straight married couples, none of which we get," he fumes. "I'm just doing the same thing that Mahatma Gandhi did in India and the colonists did during the War for Independence."

In his former life, Merrill was married to Evangeline Johnson (aunt to Jets owner Woody Johnson, and great aunt to demi-socialite Casey) who was 30 years his senior, but shared Charles' affinity for art and existentialism. (Evangeline had previously been married to orchestral conductor Leopold Stokowski, who made "Fantasia" with Walt Disney.)

After her death in 1990, Charles met his longtime lover, Kevin Boyle, who's 20 years younger, although he stills remains close with the Johnson clan - "They're very supportive," he says.

"If I was a young man with a 9-to-5 job, I wouldn't be able to do this," he says. "But I've lived a long, wonderful life. I've been to bed with many beautiful men and beautiful women, I've lived in a mansion in Palm Beach, I've been around the world three times, and I've sat next to all the movers and shakers. What else have I got to do?

"A lot of people around me are starting to die having not really done anything in their lives. I really want to try to make a difference while I'm still around."

From Page Six

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