Governor Henry McMaster of South Carolina made a chilling promise in his Wednesday night debate, declaring himself an “old-fashioned” believer in the 2006 amendment to the state Constitution that banned same-sex marriage.
“I would follow state law,” McMaster told a debate audience, and declared that allowing same-sex marriage is a violation of his state’s Constitution — something that wasn’t the case until 2006, when he was the state’s attorney general.
The debate was characterized by the same partisan issues that voters are concerned about across the nation: abortion, economy, education, gun control (with an emphasis on background checks and enforcement of current laws), marijuana legalization (on which McMaster says he may be open to medical, but firmly opposes recreational use), and others.
However, on marriage equality — a right that was seen as firmly established by a 2015 Supreme Court ruling, until the current court showed its willingness to overturn longstanding precedent — McMasters had troubling things to say. He described his position as “common sense,” and said that he thinks “traditions” like only allowing marriage for opposite-sex couples and limiting access to sports for transgender kids, are “strong…for a reason.”
Watch the relevant clip below or see the full debate at the end of this story.
Gov. Henry McMaster (R-SC): “Gay marriage in our constitution it is not allowed, and under our state law it is not allowed. I would follow state law … Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I think marriage ought to be between a man and a woman.” pic.twitter.com/a6H6IJ3yoU
— The Recount (@therecount) October 27, 2022
McMaster’s opponent, Democrat Joe Cunningham, rebutted this aptly:
It’s 2022 and Governor McMaster wants to ban same-sex marriage…I don’t care who you are, or who you love, I don’t think it’s the government’s role to be getting in the middle of that, and I don’t think it’s a politician’s role to be ripping freedoms away from people.
The Governor did not agree, insisting that he’s okay with same-sex couples being in love or living together, but that marriage “ought to be reserved” for opposite-sex couples.
South Carolina is among the many states that, seeing marriage equality gaining greater acceptance and support, jumped on the bandwagon to write bans against it not only into law, but into the state’s very Constitution.
According to Freedom to Marry‘s timeline, the state first passed a law barring marriage from same-sex couples in 1996 and followed up with a Constitutional Amendment a decade later, only backing down after a 2014 U.S. District Court ruling.
The question regarding same-sex marriage arises at the 34:15 mark in the full debate video below.