The Eye knew it was too good to be true — a Republican officeholder acting in the people's interest. Last week, The Eye took note of South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster (R) standing up to fellow GOP members in the House Republican legislative caucus and told them, in an official opinion, that they couldn't meet behind closed doors and not be subject to the SC Freedom of Information Act.
Way to go, Hank!
Within a week, McMaster showed his true colors. The day after Memorial Day, McMaster joined what he deemed a "nonpartisan, compassionate" campaign to pass the proposed state constitutional amendment that would define marriage in South Carolina as between one man and one woman.
Sigh. Since when is discrimination compassionate?
McMaster has signed on with the Palmetto Family Council to chair the group's effort, the Palmetto Marriage Project, to ban same-sex marriage. The PFC is a severely conservative mish-mash of Southern Baptists, anti-state lottery, and anti-video poker groups, along with the given of being homophobic in the extreme. Just the sort of people who know EXACTLY how YOU should lead YOUR life, mused The Eye.
McMaster told The Post and Courier he thought that from the perspective of law enforcement, children without a mother and a father were at a higher risk for future criminal behavior such as domestic violence and other anti-social behaviors. Uh-huh, maybe, but McMaster didn't seem to note that poverty, disease, family substance abuse, the aforementioned domestic violence, lousy schools, and lack of economic opportunity might be contributing factors toward future criminal activity.
He told the P&C, "That's why I think we need to resist the notion in our society that marriage and commitment are unimportant, and it's acceptable to live together and have children without it."
The Eye thought it was kinda hard to tell if McMaster was referring to the queers or to what is referred to diplomatically as "people of color." One never can never be too sure around these parts.
PFC president Oran Smith told the P&C that he expected his group to begin the council's media campaign Labor Day weekend with television ads and direct mail. All of which, no doubt, will be tastefully and artfully produced. Smith said he'd like to raise $400,000 this summer for the media push. Oh, so that's it, Henry's going to be the pet monkey out on the trail shaking people down for their hard-earned cash.
The Eye would like to point out that this Smith character looks a lot like those TV preachers who spend way more time worrying about their hair than the hereafter.
The PFC has what looks at first glance like an impressive and awfully official-looking list of affiliations on its website such as the Attorney General's office, the Catholic Diocese of Charleston, the governor's office, the S.C. Baptist Convention, the S.C. Commission on Minority Affairs, and the S.C. Department of Social Services. Look closely and you'll find a disclaimer at the end of the list of "partner organizations" that reads: "Representatives of these organizations are involved in crafting the Palmetto Marriage Project. A listing here does not necessarily imply endorsement of the organization."
Hmmm. Sounds like the emperor has no clothes.
Anyhoo, The Eye decided to stroll on by the friendly folks at Charleston's own Alliance For Full Acceptance and see what they might have to say in this latest installment of the culture war. AFFA president Susie Prueter told The Eye, "Attorney General McMaster and the PFC are unfairly misrepresenting the ramifications of this amendment. It's about more than just marriage between a man and a woman. It also eliminates all possibility for any kind of legal protections for GLBT couples like hospital visitation or property ownership. This kind of wide-reaching discrimination is not what South Carolinians believe in ... or want."
You said it, sister! The Eye was actually surprised by its own surprise that Henry McMaster would stoop to such a craven act of political pandering. But then again, it is an election year.