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Passage of anti-gay marriage amendment has a silver lining for progressive movement
Despite the intolerance of the S.C . marriage amendment, the LGBT community is seeing some unexpected benefits

by Jack Kirven . Q-Notes staff
COLUMBIA — The marriage amendment in South Carolina that limited marriage to one man and one woman passed the popular vote with a 78 percent majority in November 2006. It has been in place for several months now and Melissa Moore, field director of the South Carolina Equality Coalition (SCEC), has been monitoring the effects of the legislation.

“Predictably, there has been a sudden rise in violent crimes against LGBT people. There have already been three known ‘hate-crimes’ in the Upstate alone since its passage.” Moore says this is to be expected when “laws that blatantly discriminate against a community are seen to condone violence against those very people.”

There have been other developments that are almost piggybacked onto the marriage issue. Focus on the Family, the anti-LGBT organization that so ardently pushed for the marriage amendment, is now trying to influence women’s reproductive rights as well. “This isn’t surprising. In fact it was expected,” Moore said. A proposed initiative would require that women see an ultrasound of their fetuses before being allowed to terminate their pregnancies. “Get your rosaries off my ovaries” has become a slogan for those against passage of this new requirement.

Melissa Moore expressed optimism concerning the unexpected support the amendment has fostered.
Despite these challenges, there have also been some points of encouragement. Moore says that “this galvanized the LGBT community in a way nothing else has recently.” In addition, the LGBT community has picked up some unexpected supporters, including the League of Women Voters, the Sheriff’s Department, People Against Rape and the YWCA. All have signed on as co-sponsors of documents opposing the limitations on safe, legal abortions.

In addition, six non-discrimination bills have been introduced into the legislature and they all, according to Moore, include verbiage that is inclusive of protections for LGBT citizens. The Executive Branch of the South Carolina Democratic Party has also passed a “numerical goal,” which means that at least three LGBT delegates will participate in the National Democratic Committee. Because of the timing of these developments they have been regarded as responses against the marriage amendment.

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