The Democratic Party platform that passed Tuesday night makes a strong statement for what gay activists call “marriage equality.” It’s an issue that seemed stalled after 2008 for them until 2011, when President Barack Obama, then the NAACP stated their support.
The president said he’d “evolved,” and that was enough for the South Carolina Democratic party, says delegate Susan Smith of the Pawleys Island, Georgetown area.
“This inclusion removes a very key wedge issue that Republicans have used to divide Democrats, because a lot of black Democrats are very conservative on social issues and I see that change. No one could have made that stance, no one could have made a better case for marriage equality than President Obama or Congressman (John) Lewis and some of the great leaders in the black community,” says Smith, who is a straight supporter of gay equality
There are five members of the LGBT community in the South Carolina delegation. Hilton Head’s John Giles is one who agrees that was a turning point.
He wears a pin Tuesday that reads “LGBT Obama.”
“I had it in 2008, but I started wearing it that Sunday when he came out for us,” says Giles.
He says he hopes gay marriage rights will happen in his lifetime. “But that’s to be seen. People are evolving like the president and hopefully residents within our state are evolving and conversation is what’s going to get them to evolve,” says Giles.
But he adds that he is ready to “move on to the next thing, like most Americans.”
“The gay marriage debate’s been going on for a long time and we need to just move past it; we’ve got bigger issues. This is the South and everything moves like molasses. It’s going to take some time,” says Giles.
He is relieved that, like, with the reversal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy against being openly gay, party leaders have made their stance clear.