After the overwhelming passage of Amendment No. 1, which will allow the state constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, The Eye decided to visit the friendly folks of Charleston’s Alliance For Full Acceptance to see what was new.
AFFA, along with the South Carolina Equality Coalition, spearheaded a multi-layered media campaign to defeat Amendment No. 1, but neither group harbored any illusions about the election results.
While the precincts in the City of Charleston and Folly Beach defeated the ballot question, the amendment passed statewide by a 4-1 margin.
“The results in S.C. are certainly devastating for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community,” said AFFA president Susie Prueter. “We’ll have to continue to spend money on attorneys to legally protect our families with flimsy, challengeable contracts. We’ll have to move mountains while straight married couples take their protections for granted.”
Prueter’s attitude was shared by Asha Leong media campaign manager with SCEC, “For S.C., we set out to build a movement infrastructure and that’s what we did. Despite the vote totals, for us, this was the victory. We’re looking forward to the next opportunity to regroup and educate more volunteers and secure more donor support beyond the LGBT community. We plan to play a part within the political structure.”
AFFA’s Executive Director Warren Redman-Gresse told The Eye that he was reassured by the local vote tally. “As disappointing as the statewide results were, I was pleased with how Charleston County came out.”
Melissa Moore, SCEC Field Director, had kept The Eye apprised of the battle out in the trenches over the course of the last 18 or so months and commented, “I say we won, not at the polls, but in the long term, because the amendment has given us the opportunity to organize across the lines of race, class, gender, creed, and all the other isms that have historically kept our people divided.”
She added, “The coalitions we’ve built during this campaign have tied the LGBT rights movement into the framework of social justice and changed the culture of organizing in S.C., and we cannot begin to address LGBT equality without corresponding action on racial and economic disparities.”
The Eye was quick to cast a jaded glance at the numbers and note that even Helen Keller could have seen that there were a lot of black voters in the “yes” column on Amendment 1.
Middle-class African-Americans tend to vote along conservative lines and mainstream black preachers don’t like the gay community on what they see are moral grounds.
A lot of people in the South are still old-school racists, but you don’t see them running around en masse any more pulling “Bull” Connor-style stunts because federal law and society have done their jobs … for the most part.
No one should be surprised when votes that codify discrimination against one demographic group get turned on their heads to enable the self-perpetuating monster of rolling back the civil rights of other groups like women and Jews and blacks and Catholics and Hispanics.
The Eye, for one, is glad that the friendly folks of AFFA and the SCEC are out there fighting the good fight — not just for the LGBT crowd, but for all citizens of South Carolina.
As Prueter said, “We’ll be working tirelessly for civil rights protections and to increase the clout and leverage of the LGBT community — that’s a promise!”
Who says it’s easy to pick on the nellies, now?