Gay Dems victorious, Hospital visits guaranteed

South Carolina News Notes

Gay Dems victorious
STATEWIDE — On Tuesday, June 10, two openly gay candidates sailed to victory in their respective South Carolina primaries.

Real estate agent James Akers, Jr. won his primary for a seat on the conservative Greenville County Council and Linda Ketner won in her bid to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Henry Brown of the 1st Congressional District.

Akers won 11 of 18 Precincts and avoided a runoff election by capturing 54 percent of the votes. Democratic opponent Rob Hanley was a distant second with 30 percent of the vote. Another opponent, Col. Barry Matthews, finished third with 15 percent. Akers won three precincts with 78 percent of the vote or higher — 100 percent in Greenville 19, 78 percent in Mauldin 3 and 82 percent in Greenbriar, a combined 250 votes to his opponents combined 62 votes.

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“I was confident going into the election, though I think everyone assumed there would be a runoff. I am pleased, however, that my message resonated with so many voters and I’m astonished at the margin of victory” Akers said.

Ketner captured 65 percent of the vote against her opponent Ben Frazier, a perennial office-seeker whose loss Tuesday marks his 18th unsuccessful bid for office.

The openly lesbian, Food Lion grocery store heiress has been endorsed by numerous South Carolina leaders, including former S.C. Gov. Jim Hodges, S.C. Legislative Black Caucus Chair Leon Howard, S.C. Senate Minority Leader John Land, Charleston County Councilwoman Colleen Condon, S.C. Federation of College Democrats President Jamarr Brown and former S.C. Democratic Party Chair Joe Erwin.

“Very few in this state have the record of achievement that Linda Ketner has with the African-American community,” Hodges said. “She’s always been there for us, now it’s time we are there for her. I enthusiastically endorse Linda Ketner to be the next Congresswoman from the first district of South Carolina.”

Hospital visits guaranteed
COLUMBIA — On the evening of Wednesday, June 11, Gov. Mark Sanford (R) signed into legislation a bill protecting same-sex couples’ rights to hospital visitation.

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The law, an amendment to SC Code section 62-5-504(E), provides that a person who possesses a valid health care power of attorney form will be permitted hospital visitation. North Carolina took similar steps in April.

The North Carolina change was made to the state’s Patients’ Bill of Rights, adding a provision stating: “A patient has the right to designate visitors who shall receive the same visitation privileges as the patient’s immediate family members, regardless of whether the visitors are legally related to the patient.”
The South Carolina law takes effect immediately.

SC Equality is urging those couples without existing healthcare power-of-attorney arrangements to fill out the necessary forms. They can download one at:
www.richlandonline.com/departments/probate/forms/Healthcare.pdf

Forms are also available at most county Probate Courts. A list of those courts and contact information can be found at:
www.judicial.state.sc.us/probateCourt/alphaList.cfm

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