South Carolina Democrats Battle Over Gay Marriage
A battle over gay marriage is heating up in South Carolina between Democrats. Jay Stamper, who is currently the only Democrat for the Senate seat held by Lindsey Graham, is challenging 2014 gubernatorial candidate and State Senator Vincent Sheheen to come out in support of gay marriage. He created an online petition to have voters urge Sheheen to “reconsider” his opposition to marriage equality.
However, Stamper closed the petition shortly after creating it and removed a link to it from his Facebook page. “Imagine for a moment what it’s like to be gay and in high school in South Carolina. Now imagine that same student in civics class, studying the South Carolina Constitution and learning that even his own state’s laws sanction discrimination against him,” read the petition. “With nowhere to turn, facing bullying and pressure to hide who they really are, is it any wonder that gay youth attempt suicide at four times the rate of their heterosexual classmates?”
Sheheen has not publicly commented on the petition. He has actively tried to mend his relationship with the LGBT community in recent years, quietly taking the stage at the South Carolina Pride event last September. However, Andrew Whalen, Sheheen’s campaign manager, said that senator “continues to personally believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.”
The backlash over Whalen’s comments to The State was swift and harsh amongst Democrats and progressives. Sheheen voted in favor of the gay marriage ban in the state Senate in 2005 and 2007 and is expected to do so again if the bill comes up in the future.