Efforts to Halt LGBT Inclusion Advances Arise in S.C. Government

This past month, several SC conservative Senators introduced two bills that would halt the efforts made since 2014 to advance equality and inclusion of the LGBT community in the Palmetto state.

Freedom Indiana faith leaders hold a Jericho prayer walk through the halls of the Statehouse before a hearing on bills concerning LGBT civil rights and religious freedom in front of the Senate Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedure at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Freedom Indiana faith leaders hold a Jericho prayer walk through the halls of the Statehouse before a hearing on bills concerning LGBT civil rights and religious freedom in front of the Senate Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedure at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Senator Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley) introduced S.31 last year in an effort to amend the Constitution to declare marriage to be a union between a man and a woman in order to reverse the decision to bring marriage equality to South Carolina in 2014. Since then, several conservatives, including Senator Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg), expressed their support for the bill.

Bright also introduced a bill, S.1203, similar to North Carolina’s transgender law that would mandate for individuals to use the restrooms based on their birth genders, not the gender they currently identify. Bright has been very vocal about his reasons for the bill, deeming it as simply “common sense”.

Sens. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, right, and Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, left, listen in the Senate chambers during the first day of legislative session at the Statehouse Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

Sens. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, right, and Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, left, listen in the Senate chambers during the first day of legislative session at the Statehouse Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

“Everybody has a right to be offended, but when it comes right down to it, it’s common sense,” Bright stated after introducing the bill last Wednesday. “You don’t want men using women’s restrooms under the guise of choosing that as their sexual orientation. I mean, you’re either born a man or a woman, and if you’re born male, you shouldn’t be using female restrooms.”

Malissa Burnette, legal expert who is also a board member for SC Equality, spoke opposition towards the bills, calling them, especially the recent “bathroom bill” very offensive and illegal.

“It requires public schools and colleges to discriminate in a way that would not be permissible under Title 9 of Education amendments,” Burnette told the press shortly after the committee meeting. “If the state is interested in continuing to receive federal education money, I think that’s going to be a problem.”

FILE - In this March 30, 2016 file photo, Human Rights Campaign Executive Director Chad Griffin, center, speaks at a news conference at the old state Capitol Building in Raleigh, N.C. Griffin was among several LGBT leaders who headed to the state to join in protests and plot strategy for trying to overturn a new law limiting bathroom options for transgender people. Stung by setbacks related to their access to public restrooms, transgender Americans are taking steps to play a more prominent and vocal role in a nationwide campaign to curtail discrimination against them.  (AP Photo/Gary Robertson, File)

FILE – In this March 30, 2016 file photo, Human Rights Campaign Executive Director Chad Griffin, center, speaks at a news conference at the old state Capitol Building in Raleigh, N.C. Griffin was among several LGBT leaders who headed to the state to join in protests and plot strategy for trying to overturn a new law limiting bathroom options for transgender people. Stung by setbacks related to their access to public restrooms, transgender Americans are taking steps to play a more prominent and vocal role in a nationwide campaign to curtail discrimination against them. (AP Photo/Gary Robertson, File)

Burnette, SC Equality, and several supporters of opposing the bill sent out word to the public about sending your concerns about the passing of the bill and how it could affect the educational and economic foundations of the state going forward if passed. For more information, head to www.scequality.org or for details on the bills, go to www.scstatehouse.gov.

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