Friday, March 23, 2007

So Much for S.C. Hope and Trust

Dum spiro spero (while I breath, I hope) again seems misapplied as the motto of South Carolina. The Palmetto (or cabbage palm) State staked its claim as Texas East yesterday when its constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage or the recognition of such unions from elsewhere took affect.

It is one of the states that piled this on top of its existing law defining marriage as only between one man and one woman. This took affect yesterday and has two key ramifications:
  • There is a strong lesson here to those who would depend upon the kindness of strangers, neighbors and legislators. The passive, go-along-to-get-along and smile-and-say-reasonable-things campaigns failed miserably.
  • A state that would be king maker or at least presidential signpost with its early primary is setting itself up as an outlier. The heyday of gay-marriage bashing was a year and two and three ago. The nation is heading elsewhere in fits and starts.
By the bye, the existing law prohibiting same-sex marriage was strong, reading "Prohibition of same sex marriage. [SC ST SEC 20-1-15] A marriage between persons of the same sex is void ab initio and against the public policy of this State." Legislators and anti-gay groups pushing the amendment invoked the specter of retiring state high-court justices and the vague possibility that a phalanx of liberal freedom lovers might replace them.

Nearly 80% of voters approved the amendment and the House ratified it 92 to 7 (Senate by voice).

Instead of the quiet and often closeted hope (that spero again) that people would not be hypocritical, but act in fairness and support civil rights, out and pushy works better. In such places as Massachusetts and Maine, for example, gay-rights legislation and same-sex-marriage acceptance came from coworkers and neighbors knowing and liking homosexual singles, couples and parents.

Faint heart never won equality.

The actual wording of the amendment is very telling. Constitution Article XVII, Section 15 reads:
A marriage between one man and one woman is the only lawful domestic union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This State and its political subdivisions shall not create a legal status, right, or claim respecting any other domestic union, however denominated. This State and its political subdivisions shall not recognize or give effect to a legal status, right, or claim created by another jurisdiction respecting any other domestic union, however denominated. Nothing in this section shall impair any right or benefit extended by the State or its political subdivisions other than a right or benefit arising from a domestic union that is not valid or recognized in this State. This section shall not prohibit or limit parties, other than the State or its political subdivisions, from entering into contracts or other legal instruments.
So, a Canadian or Massachusetts SSM is less than red dirt in Columbia or Inman. When in some future decade, they get around to overturning this anti-gay, anti-civil-rights, anti-freedom, pro-discrimination law and amendment, it will be quite a struggle. Surely, that is exactly what the current legislators wanted and got.

Let us muse at the same time on a couple of other unrelated examples of the sandlappers' regression. That same constitution includes:
  • Article VI, Section 2. Person denying existence of Supreme Being not to hold office.No person who denies the existence of the Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.
  • Article XVII, Section 4. Supreme Being. No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.
Those surely would not withstand a federal lawsuit. That may become the case with the SSM prohibitions, both from a civil-rights stance and a comity one, but not for a decade or two or three.

The amendment will likely prove a Pyrrhic victory. At least by then, many of today's legislators will be dead or spending their days surf fishing.

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2 comments:

Uncle said...

At this moment, the name escapes me, but: For all the public policy insanity, I recall it was a South Carolina judge who dismissed secession, saying "South Carolina is too small for a republic, and too large for a lunatic asylum." This is still true, and one hopes there are still such wise heads in the Palmetto state.

Mass Marrier said...

As I recall, it was James L. Petigru, who said that, but "insane" rather than "lunatic".

There was a time where John Calhoun and other great orators came from South Carolina College (now USC), one of the two great school in the South, with UVA. Alas, the current crop reflects the venality of your generation and mine.

Whether from culture and manners or nature, the bright and well-intentioned there seem far too timid for the times.

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