This June will mark the three-year anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court case that confirmed love is love and same-sex couples deserve the right to marry, too. Yet, like a jilted lover, some conservatives are still having trouble moving on.
On February 15, South Carolina lawmakers introduced H-4949, also known as the Marriage and Constitution Restoration Act; the bill seeks to make a distinction between “parody marriage” and “marriage” by, you guessed it, whether or not the couple is straight or gay. (A similar bill was filed in Wyoming on Valentine’s Day, but it was pretty much dead on arrival.)
The bill’s language is, well, interesting. The sponsors define “sexual orientation” as a “self-asserted sex-based identity narrative that is based on a series of naked assertions and unproven faith-based assumptions that are implicitly religious.” That religion, they contend, is Secular Humanism. Homosexuality isn’t a problem, the text continues: Any South Carolinian can be gay, “even if it does not check out with the human design.”
But a marriage, the writers of H-4949 assert, is between a man and a woman, and is “natural, neutral, and noncontroversial, unlike parody forms of marriage.” Anything else, per this bill, violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution; therefore, it should be defined as a parody marriage.
The argument here, bill sponsor State Rep. Steven Long told the Charleston City Paper, is that South Carolina can’t have statutes that prioritize religion over non-religion. "Marriage between one man and one woman—natural and non-controversial—arrives out of the nature of things,” he said. "It is not something that is exclusively religious.” In his eyes, however, gay marriage is rooted in religion—for what it’s worth, secular humanism actually rejects religious dogma—and therefore should not be recognized by the state.
The bill was co-written by Chris Sevier, the guy who filed lawsuits in several states alleging he should be allowed to marry his computer. His reasoning? If same-sex couples could get married, he should be allowed to marry an inanimate object. (He’s also the same guy who sued Apple, blaming the company for his porn addiction...)
Perhaps coming to his senses about how ridiculous H-4949 is, one of the original sponsors, Rick Martin, requested his name be removed just a week after it was filed. After all, marriage equality is the law of the land.
Jeff Ayers, executive director of SC Equality, called the bill “nothing more than an attempt by a first-term representative to pander to his far-right base in an election year.”
“Bills like this are hateful, discriminatory and only make it more difficult to recruit new business to South Carolina,” Ayers continued in a statement. “The LGBT community and our allies will not stand silently as Representative Long and the Keystone Cop Caucus paints a picture of South Carolina that is full of discrimination and bigotry. 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.”
H-4949 is currently hanging out in the House Judiciary Committee, with no hearing date currently set. Let’s hope it stays there.