The new executive director of SC Equality outlines her goals and thoughts after taking helm of the advocacy group this month in an interview this week with Columbia’s Free Times.
Writer Eva Moore sat down with Christine Johnson, a Charleston native who recently left her job as a Utah state legislator to take the position, and discussed Johnson’s past, agenda goals and hopes to start a political action committee under the SC Equality banner.
Johnson told Moore that South Carolina’s conservative nature is quite different from her experience in Utah.
“I’ve found that, even though it’s politically conservative, it’s not as hostilely aggressive toward members of diverse communities,” Johnson said. “And that leads me to believe that there is a window of opportunity to educate not only lawmakers but the public at large about some of the discrimination that takes place against the gay community.”
Johnson said local successes will also help to move statewide progress.
“It’s interesting, because I think that the same objective on a state level also applies on a local level, and that’s where South Carolina Equality has been very effective,” Johnson said. “Both in Charleston and Columbia, they’ve passed housing and public accommodation ordinances that ensure nondiscrimination. My first agenda is to continue with some of the communities that are going to be open to that dialogue, and continue to try and pass ordinances.”
Johnson added, “Once we have those on a local level, it’s very easy to evidence to state-level elected officials that policies of nondiscrimination are not harmful to the community. They’re actually beneficial. So I think that the state-level agenda and the local-level agenda initially are focused on housing and employment and public accommodation nondiscrimination.”