This is a letter to the editor sent yesterday by a highly successful and magnificently gracious South Carolina business woman I know. It’s worth a read even if you’ve never been to South Carolina.
March 17, the S.C. Senate voted 36-4 to silence me and over 250,000 other South Carolinians. The vote cancelled the already stingy 75 minutes of hearings which had been allowed for gay and lesbian people to offer testimony against a South Carolina constitutional marriage amendment. This constitutional amendment will prohibit not only our right to legally marry, but also to form civil unions, domestic partnerships, and any form of legal protections for our families.
The issue is one of basic fairness. We simply seek what all other South Carolinians already have: the rights and responsibilities which protect our families. Important things are at stake such as hospital visitation, insurance, social security, veteran benefits, and tax protection on estate bequests.
Despite the myth, at any given time, 75% of all lesbians, and 50% of gay men, are in committed relationships (Friedman, 1995). According to the 2,000 Census, South Carolina has the third largest population of gay and coupled African Americans in the United States. We are indeed here amongst you, working, paying taxes, rearing children, holding jobs that you value.
As regards the S.C. Senate, I hope it didn’t go unnoticed that the successful effort to deny our right to speak was initiated by Senator John Hawkins. Senator Hawkins was arrested for rape in 1989. According to the State newspaper, “Lt. Mark Barry of the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Department, who worked the Hawkins incident and has worked hundreds of rape cases said, ‘It was one of the strongest rape cases I’ve ever seen. There was no doubt force was used. This was not a consensual act.'” The case was dropped when the woman failed to appear in court.
The bill itself was sponsored by Representative John Graham Altman, who is on his third marriage, has purportedly had some awkwardness with unpaid taxes and multiple DUI’s according to the City Paper.
I bring these things up to highlight that moral superiority doesn’t become those who live in huge glass houses. Or, does it? Both men have been re-elected. Both men have lead the anti-gay activity on righteous grounds. Is it about diverting voters away from their own iniquities? Is it arrogance? What?
Gay and lesbian people ask to live our lives at least with the same freedom as those arrested for rape, with three marriages, tax liens and DUI’s; but, with more dignity.
There are two converging messages in the Bible and in the Constitution. Can you find them? Both verify that in our country – and in our majority religions – all people are created equal in all ways and there are no exceptions. None. No citizen’s belief system is subjugated to another’s. None. America’s birthright is equality. When I support our troops in Iraq, that is what I support. And that, is what I would be willing to die for. These days, it sometimes seems harder to live for it.
Wadmalaw Island, S.C.
And this is an excerpt from Michael Kinsley in the Los Angeles Times Sunday:
Based on the two big domestic stories of last week – Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube and Social Security personoramification (or whatever they want us to call it instead of privatization) – the Republican philosophy seems to be that people need more control over their own retirements, but less control over their own deaths. Based on recent polls, most people feel the exact opposite. They prefer the modest but certain Social Security check they get every month over the opportunity to spend their twilight years nursing their portfolios and worrying every time Alan Greenspan’s successors open their mouths.
On the other hand, they want to set for themselves the rules about their own final departures. Specifically, people are terrified of being kept joylessly alive – active minds trapped in a shut-down body or lost minds mocking the dignity of a lifetime – just to prove somebody’s political point.
And this is what Google looks like if you’re Elmer Fudd.