Six state representatives from the Upstate introduced a bill on Thursday, Feb. 15 that seeks to delegitimize gay marriages on the basis that being gay does not "check out with the human design."
The bill, titled the "Marriage and Constitution Restoration Act"
defines marriage as the union between "a man and a woman," and calls other forms of marriages "parody marriages." The text claims that gay marriages violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution because they are inherently "non-secular" and part of "the religion of Secular Humanism."
As opposed to straight marriages, which, you know, have absolutely nothing to do with years of patriarchy merged with biblical concepts.
It was sponsored by Reps. Seven Long (R-Spartanburg), Bill Chumley (R-Spartanburg), Mike Burns (R-Greenville), Rick Martin (R-Newberry), John McCravy (R-Greenwood), and Josiah Magnuson (R-Spartanburg).
The bill was co-written by Chris Sevier, who also helped with a similar bill filed in the Wyoming House of Representatives
on Wednesday, Feb. 14.
Sevier is best known for filing a federal lawsuit against several state leaders in Mississippi in September 2017 for not recognizing his marriage to a computer, in an apparent attempt to underscore what he perceives as the invalidity of non-straight marriages.
"Because gay marriage is not secular. It's controversial. It's questionably real. It's questionably moral," Sevier told WJTV in Jackson, Miss
. "And just like polygamy, and zoophilia, and machinism, and other forms of perspective marriage are also not secular. All forms of parody marriage are equally part of the religion of secular humanism."
Sevier, who makes music under the name Chris Severe, tells CP
that he's working on similar bills in 25 other states and in the federal Congress.
He continuously compared gay marriages to "animal marriages" and gay people to "zoophiles," and admitted that his "machinist" lawsuits are only meant to prevent governments from protecting LGBT marriage laws by highlighting the ridiculousness of "parody marriages."
Sevier says he plans on filing a similar lawsuit in South Carolina soon.
"We’re working with a lot of former homosexuals, they’ll be the chief plaintiffs in that lawsuit and we’ll bring it by the end of the week," he said. "We have 13 lawsuits pending right now, and we’re bringing another one in South Carolina by the end of the week. They’re not about marrying computers, the cases are about preventing the government from enforcing any form of parody marriage policy."
While he claims that his main issue is the Supreme Court's "unprincipled" use of the 14th Amendment to justify legalizing gay marriage, he continuously diminished homosexuality as unnatural.
"Under the freedom of expression clause, a man can marry a man and believe that man is his wife," Sevier said. "Other people can believe that too. The problem is the terminology. Man-woman marriage policy is based on self-evident truths."
State Rep. Long of Spartanburg echoed similar homophobic and inflammatory attitudes in a call with CP
"Marriage between one and and one woman — natural and non-controversial — arrives out of the nature of things, he said. "It is not something that is exclusively religious. There are several religions that promote and support that, but this bill doesn’t have any kind of religious motive to it."
He cited the bill in Wyoming, which looks dead on arrival as of Monday, and the idea that "case law" backs up the belief that being irreligious is, in itself, a religion.
"The state of South Carolina can’t have policies that put religion over non-religion, and that includes the religions of secular humanism, moral relativism and atheism, which the courts have determined to be considered religions under the establishment clause," Rep. Long said.
College of Charleston math professor and president of the Secular Coalition for America Herb Silverman says that the irreligion-is-religion argument is a common tactic used to rouse up moral panic.
"I think that’s often used by the religious right when it comes to teaching evolution in school, where they say, 'Thats just promoting the religion of secular humanism,' rather than saying we want to have science taught the right way," he said.
Silverman says that the "precedent" Sevier and Rep. Long are citing is probably footnote number 11 from Torcaso v. Watkins,
which in part reads:
Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others.
"Nobody, really, within the Secular Humanist community thinks of it as a religion, some of us would say atheism is a religion like baldness is a hair color," Silverman said. "Yes, atheists and humanists generally promote gay marriage the same way we promoted marriage between blacks and whites when there were religious arguments against it, it’s what we view as a human right."
Calls to Reps. Burns and Magnuson were not immediately returned.
Gay marriage was effectively legalized in all 50 states after the Supreme Court declared that the right to marry was granted to all couples by the 14th Amendment in Obergefell v. Hodges
in June 2015.