South Carolina Sen. Lee Bright
It’s with a mix of emotions that I look back on state Sen. Lee Bright’s last year in office. As you may have heard, the Spartanburg County Republican who captivated us all, lost his primary runoff Tuesday. In recent history, few other politicians have been able to stir such strong feelings in the hearts and minds of voters. So as this cherub-faced lawmaker prepares to leave office, let’s remember all that Bright stood for and the legacy that he leaves behind.
Bright was never shy about his convictions. A passionate man of faith and conservative values, he remained a controversial figure up until the end. Whether it was launching efforts to register refugees entering the state, extending more rights to what he referred to as “pre-born persons,” or fighting to keep the Confederate battle flag on Statehouse grounds — Bright was resolute in his beliefs. As fellow lawmakers discussed removing the Confederate flag last summer — a move which the Upstate senator compared to a “Stalinist purge” — Bright instead called for a debate on same-sex marriage.
“Our governor called us in to deal with the flag that sits out front. Let’s deal with the nation of sin that we face today. We talk about abortion, but this gay marriage thing, I believe we will be one nation gone under,” he declared.
More recently, Bright drew headlines by taking a stance on bathroom use. In an effort that he believed was necessary in saving the nation, the senator pushed to restrict local governments from allowing transgender Americans from using public facilities associated with their gender identity. After the bill failed to gain any traction, Bright promised voters that he would reintroduce similar legislation next year if he was voted back into office. But it seems we’ll never know what Bright had planned for 2017 and beyond. Maybe one day, he’ll regain enough support to once again be swept into office. For now, all we have are the memories.