There are times when I can be a belaborer. This is one of those times. But it’s for a good cause. The cause is furthering your understanding of the insidious ways of red state legislatures. I’m going to take you deep inside the red state South Carolina House and examine what makes bible-thumping office- holding homophobes tick.
In late February, I wrote a piece about the symbolic book-burning taking place in the South Carolina legislature when it was suggested by that Republican-dominated body that two state institutions of higher learning, the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate be punished for daring to expose Freshman students to the highly negative societal effects of homophobia on gay men and lesbians. Incoming students were given reading assignments, followed by the opportunity to actually talk with gays about what it’s like to carry the stigma of being different. The book assigned to College of Charleston students, “Fun Home” was not even mandatory reading; options could be selected. The USC Upstate book was titled “Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio.” It was the intention of this university that students attend meetings and learn of the tribulations of being gay.
The costs of the assigned books were a little over $17,000 at USC Upstate and an even $52,000 at the College of Charleston. Republican legislators demanded that those totals be stripped from the funding for the respective campuses. As a consequence, the few remaining non gay-bashing legislators in the state capital of Columbia (read Democrats), used the House Budget bill, HR 4701 as a platform to introduce 4 amendments to give the campuses a break and restore the cut. All amendments were tabled by similar votes. A ‘Yea’ vote favored the tabling.
I’m going to give you access to the names of those voting to trash one of the amendments, essentially, the same names that approved the tabling of all the amendments. Here’s the exact wording of the one we’ll be looking at, amendment 47 of H 4701 as it applied to the USC Upstate funding: “Rep. James E. Smith proposes the following Amendment No. 47 to H.4701 as introduced by Ways & Means
(Doc Name H:\LEGWORK\HOUSE\AMEND\H-WM09\USC – UPSTATE OTHER FUNDS JES.DOCX):
EXPLANATION: Adding back the $17,142 other fund adjustment for the other fund authorization
Amend the bill, as and if amended, Part IA, Section 20c, USC – UPSTATE, page 62, line 11, opposite /Other Operating Expenses/ by increasing the amount(s) in Column 3 by $17,142.”
Renumber sections to conform.
Amend totals and titles to conform.
That’s the legalese of amendment 47; Smith’s effort that didn’t have a “prayer.” The vote to table the Smith attempt to restore funding was an overwhelming 71 Yeas (to table) to 40 Nays. I went through each affirmative vote. There were 70 Republican approvals joined by one troubled Democrat, Ted Vick. Here’s a mid-May, 2013 HuffPost account of Vick’s drinking problems. The Nay side of the ledger included a single Republican, Doug Brannon, who switched parties to get elected from the blood-red Upstate.
Here are some mini-profiles of key first amendment rejecters. Liston Barfield is huge in ALEC; a state chairman no less. Task force member, Garry Smith is another one. I’ve already written about him. Phillip “Phil” Owens is, sadly, the Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee. Odd role for somebody that decides what books make the cut in higher education. Phil’s a big bank and chamber guy and I’m sure now feels more comfortable that his religion of choice, Methodist, gave that preacher dad of a gay young man the boot for officiating at the minister’s son’s wedding to his partner. We could have expected no less from Phil that he’s enthusiastically reject a forgiving amendment.
J. Derham Cole Jr. hates them thar’ gay books as well. He also sits by and twiddles his thumbs as the representative for district 32. His constituents, victims of the brutally toxic byproducts of numerous intrusive polymer plants, are picking up various cancers like summer mosquito bites. Keep twiddling Jr. My entreaties to some accomplished Democratic residents to run against you have fallen on deaf ears. So both parties twiddle while Cannon’s Campground in Spartanburg burns.
You can’t fault Wendy Nanney for voting to table a free-speech amendment. She learned from the best of ‘em at the Cray Bob Jones University, home of rampant racism, bans on interracial dating until 2000, teaching Creationism to college students, hating Catholics to the point of calling their religion a cult (one of their milder slurs) and, as always happens with hypocrites, finding themselves in hot water over some sleazy sex scandal. So, yeah, her Alma Mater must be mighty proud of her bigoted vote.
BJU (odd initials, eh?) sexual allegations are extremely serious, going back to young children who might have attended one or more of the four Bob Jones schools besides the University located at the Wade Hampton address in Greenville. These would possibly include Bob Jones Elementary, Bob Jones Academy and another grade school. It’s a real maze figuring out what grades are located in what building as there is duplication.
Many alleged abuses were not reported until college. BJU counselors advised silence lest the victim “Damage the cause of Christ.” I have no response that could be reprinted here.
I don’t know the exact ALEC membership count of the aforementioned legislative gay-bashers, but here’s some wonderful intelligence that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution political reporter collected on ALEC. The documents come from the organization, itself. Click here and you’ll learn that despite a rash of national Democratic resignations from ALEC (Vick was one of them) that South Carolina still has some 65 ALEC legislative members skulking around the premises clutching the latest ALEC model-legislation. That’s 38% of the total members of the General Assembly. South Dakota boosts a 100% count, meaning that members of that body do nothing important, ever, for their constituents that isn’t ALEC-influenced. And this is democracy? An estimated quarter of all state legislators are connected to ALEC. That’s obscene! At the site scroll down to page 39 for state membership info.
I’m ashamed of our modern-day political climate and know exactly what Michelle Obama meant when she told a Milwaukee audience a half-dozen years ago, “For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.” If I may paraphrase: “For the first time in my adult life I am disgusted at what this country has become because of a segment of pseudo-Christians who spend their waking hours doing nothing but bowing to billionaire commands and hating blacks, Hispanics, Democrats, unions and, most especially, gays.”
There is no comeback, Madam First Lady and if Democrats choose to stay home for yet another election, there won’t be for a generation or so.