Anti-LGBT creationist Kevin Bryant could soon be first in line to become governor

Bryant led efforts to make cuts after 'Fun Home' and add Bible creation story into state law

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A state senator who led the effort to cut funding from College of Charleston over summer reading assignments and pushed to include quotes from the Book of Genesis in legislation establishing a state fossil, could become South Carolina's lieutenant governor.

SCOTT MILLER / CLEMSON UNIVERSITY
  • Scott Miller / Clemson University
Republican state Sen. Kevin Bryant, a pharmacist by trade, told the Anderson Independent-Mail this week that he "would be honored" to serve as the state's lieutenant governor when Gov. Nikki Haley leaves S.C. next year to join the Donald Trump administration and Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster assumes the office of governor. Bryant has built a reputation as a conservative firebrand while representing the Anderson district since 2005, particularly on LGBT issues.

When College of Charleston and USC Upstate assigned books examining LGBT themes in 2013, Bryant was one of two senators who worked to cut funding to the programs, punishing the schools for what he called "perversion." The outcry sparked protests and eventually spurred the Tony-winning stage adaptation of 'Fun Home' to visit Charleston for a live performance. In the end, Bryant and his Senate colleague Mike Fair were successful in convincing their colleagues to require that CofC spend $53,000 to teach America's founding documents instead.

College of Charleston assigned freshmen to read the graphic memoir 'Fun Home' in 2013 - FILE
  • File
  • College of Charleston assigned freshmen to read the graphic memoir 'Fun Home' in 2013
And when the Senate took up an eight-year old's suggestion of naming the wooly mammoth as the official state fossil in 2014, Bryant unsuccessfully attempted to insert direct quotes from the book of Genesis. Bryant toned down that language to merely paraphrase from the creation story, asserting that mammoths were "created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field." Those efforts were ultimately ruled out of order or voted down.

Lieutenant governor serves a mostly ceremonial role presiding over the state Senate. But whoever takes the post would be the next-in-line if the governor's office is once again vacated. They would serve until 2018, when the lieutenant governor will instead be elected along with the governor.

In the position, Bryant would no longer be able to push his agenda in the Senate, but that's not much consolation for Alliance for Full Acceptance leader Warren Redman-Gress.

"The lieutenant governor position gives him a kind of cultural pulpit in which he can travel around the state promoting his creationist views and regressive/biblical approach to the rights of women and LGBT persons."

Gress points to Bryant's recent promotion of an event that planned "biblical responses" to "cultural conflicts" including LGBT issues and abortion.

"I don’t think he wanted to confuse anyone with social science or the civil law under which we live."

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