Tuesday, January 02, 2007

South By God Carolina

How I spent my winter vacation by...

I failed at gathering insights from a recent stay in South Carolina. A very unscientific inquiry while visiting produced little.

Only two months ago, the state passed its anti-same-sex-marriage amendment 78% to 22%. With Massachusetts and a Boston mind (minus only the accent), I was armed for the debates sure to ensue.

Friends, relatives and strangers provided neither push-back nor clarity. I can surmise:
  • My sampling was largely not of the 78%
  • People misrepresented to me how they voted
  • That 78% voted mechanically without much thought or emotion
People I discussed the amendment with professed that either they didn't vote on it or voted against it. Granted that my folk were largely urban and educated.

We here found the lead-up to the vote far too cautious by the pro-equality side. Also, as someone who does not live there, I still judgmentally posted that this failed.

In fact, the whole culture there seems to be timid in a 1950s or maybe 1850s way. Look over LeftyBlogs' to see the paucity of blogs and entries, on any topic. Even after the defeat in November, these do not rant or even mention the subject.

For the local sentiment, you need go to scgaynews' blog. The post on the vote reads like an underground resistance message in an occupied land. It concludes:
We lost the vote by a four to one margin: 78% to 22%. On themselves, those numbers are disheartening. But when you look a little deeper, you will see some more numbers that can give cause for hope.

Hundreds of volunteers worked to ensure that the correct message on the impact of the “marriage” amendment was heard. Thousands of signs asking for a “No’ vote on Amendment 1 dotted the roadsides of the state. Listeners and viewers of the state’s radio and television stations heard hundreds of radio and television spots. Newspaper ads were taken out asking for support. Thousands of mailers brochures and fliers were delivered. In short, for the first time in its history, the GLBTQ community in South Carolina was united under one cause and a statewide organization was created.

Prior to the vote, the GLBQ community in South Carolina was a fractured set of organizations that worked on their own agendas. Now, we are all joined under one voice: the South Carolina Equality Coalition.

Prior to the vote, our private unions were not recognized by the state. After the vote, the state was forced to recognize the union of our community voices. As we round the corner to face our next battle (in my opinion, adoption), our voice will only grow stronger.
I disagree with the tactics, but they do not come short in either perseverance or in optimism.

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