February 20, 2018
by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Washington Blade

Six members of the South Carolina House of Representatives last week introduced a bill calling for redefining same-sex marriages in the state as “parody marriages” and prohibiting the state from recognizing such marriages.

“‘Parody marriage’ means any form of marriage that does not involve one man and one woman,” the bill states. “The State of South Carolina shall no longer respect, endorse, or recognize any form of parody marriage policy because parody marriage policies are non-secular,” the bill declares.

The legal director of the ACLU of South Carolina, Susan Dunn, called the measure “completely bogus” and said she doubts it would have any legal impact or authority to allow the state to circumvent the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Obergefell v. Hodges, which declared that state laws banning same-sex marriage were unconstitutional and could no longer be enforced.

She was referring to the expressions of shock and anger over the Supreme Court ruling by anti-LGBT groups and individuals who had long opposed same-sex marriage.

The bill in question, the Marriage and Constitution Restoration Act, was introduced into the South Carolina House on Feb. 15 and referred to the legislative body’s Committee on the Judiciary.

In addition to prohibiting the state from “recognizing” same-sex or “parody” marriages, it includes two other main provisions:

• “The State of South Carolina shall no longer enforce, recognize, or respect any policy that treats sexual orientation as a suspect class because all such statues lack a secular purpose.”

• “The State of South Carolina will continue to enforce, endorse, and recognize marriages between a man and a woman because such marriage polices are secular, accomplishing nonreligious objectives.”

Jeff Ayers, executive director of South Carolina Equality, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, called the bill a “bigoted and narrow-minded attempt to legalize discrimination” and urged lawmakers to reject it.

“Bills like this are hateful, discriminatory and only make it more difficult to recruit new businesses to South Carolina,” he said. “This issue has been settled by the United States Supreme Court. But if this bill were to pass, our lawyers are standing by to challenge it in the courts and the state will lose.”

The bill’s six sponsors are Republicans.

Its author and lead sponsor, State Rep. Steven Wayne Long (R-Spartanburg) couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.