I read with great interest the front page article in the Aug. 27 issue of the Fort Mill Times where South Carolina 5th Congressional District candidate Tom Adams has voiced his support for marriage equality and says he believes the people of District 5 are past the point of deciding elections based on a candidate’s stand on marriage equality. I agree with the Fort Mill town councilman. His support for marriage equality is the correct position and it is very encouraging to see that opposition to marriage equality is dwindling to a few holdouts.
Evidently, one of those still opposed is our current Congressman, Mick Mulvaney.
Both candidates are correct in their analysis that most voters are concerned about jobs and the economy. I would imagine that is true for LGBT voters as well. However, I would argue that today, most voters would look with a wary eye at those candidates who would deny our gay and lesbian fellow citizens equal treatment under the law.
Congressman Mulvaney is quoted as saying that he believes there is “a small group” of people who want to make the issue bigger than it is, “because they think it will divide people and create a political opportunity.” Ironic, since I have observed over the years that the only people using the marriage equality issue to divide people and for political opportunity have been the right wing in their efforts to thwart civil rights and equal treatment for LGBT citizens. For decades, Mulvaney's party has been using the issue to demonize and dismiss LGBT folks as fully contributing members of American society and denying at every step of the way gay and lesbian couples from enjoying the equal civil right of marriage. Congressman Mulvaney himself has voted in favor of the House hiring and funding to the tune of millions of dollars outside lawyers to defend the “Defense of Marriage Act” in front of the Supreme Court. This was after our attorney general and the president determined correctly that the law was unconstitutional and was wrong.
The Supreme Court indeed ruled many parts of DOMA are unconstitutional and in fact harmful and discriminatory to fellow Americans. As we have seen over the past decade, the American people know it is wrong and that is clearly evident in recent polling.
Normally, I would be dumbfounded by a congressman who would express such views regarding those folks who support equal civil liberties for all Americans. However, given his recent posting on his Facebook page regarding the events and underlining issues in Freguson, Mo., I am not surprised in the least. Congressman Mulvaney seems to stick to a very martinet minority view point when it comes to those concerned about equality and civil liberties for all Americans.
Mulvaney continued to defend his position in the article by citing the ballot measure passed in 2006 here in South Carolina defining marriage between a man and a woman. Well, if I were to use that logic I'd have to remind him that in 2006 the people of House District 5 overwhelmingly re-elected Congressman John Spratt. It was wrong in 2006 for such a law to be passed. In the last year and a half we have seen court after court rule that these laws are unconstitutional, we've seen a big change in voters opinions and indeed votes on the matter, and we have seen a ground swell of support for applying the Constitution equally to gay and lesbian Americans.
I understand that some people of good will have concerns as a matter of faith. As an active member of my parish (the congressman and I attend the same church) I understand, but reject, religious teachings that denounce homosexuality as morally wrong, illegitimate or unnatural. I strongly oppose those who say that society should discourage same sex relationships and indeed do so by the law. To those people of good will I say let us do no harm. Much like laws that once denied people marriage equality on the basis of race, these discriminatory bans on gay and lesbian citizens having marriage equality are harmful, wrong and un-American.
I'd like to quote Judge Richard Posner of the 7th U.S. District Court, a very conservative jurist appointed by President Reagan regarding the issue of marriage equality:
“When there is no justification for government’s treating a traditionally discriminated-against group significantly worse than the dominant group in society, doing so denies equal protection of the laws... [There are] bad traditions that are historical realities such as cannibalism, foot-binding, and suttee, and traditions that from a public-policy standpoint are neither good nor bad — such as trick-or-treating on Halloween. Tradition per se therefore cannot be a lawful ground for discrimination-regardless of the age of the tradition.
“It seems that the only remaining basis for opposition to homosexual marriage, or to legal equality between homosexuals and heterosexuals in general, is religious. The United States is not a theocracy and should hesitate to enact laws that serve religious rather than pragmatic secular aims, such as material welfare and national security.”
I am convinced that the overwhelming majority of Americans will be proud, as they are in the elimination of marriage bans based on race, when we no longer discriminate against LGBT citizens and welcome them into society. Marriage equality for gay and lesbian Americans will serve to strengthen marriage, society, and families. To think and support otherwise, in my opinion, does serious harm not only to LGBT citizens but to all citizens. When one American is discriminated against because of race, creed, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or identity all of us are discriminated against. I am glad Tom Adam recognizes and embraces that way of thinking.
In closing, Congressman Mulvaney states that he has "...personally met with, talked to or heard from over 100,000 people in the 5th District." and two top concerns he says he hears from them are jobs and the economy. I have no doubt that is true. I found his comments interesting for this reason: Just a few short weeks ago I read in the Rock Hill Herald where Congressman Mulvaney was on a media blitz touring the 5th District with Texas Governor Rick Perry (the GOP presidential candidate who Mulvaney campaigned for in 2012). Mulvaney said he and Perry were discussing “economic strategy.” In that article Texas Governor Perry bragged about he was literally on his knees begging Toyota to locate in Texas and not Charlotte (they since have announced they are going to Texas and not Charlotte).
In fact Perry has been actively engaging for some time in luring jobs from Charlotte and other areas of North and South Carolina to Texas. How is it good "economic strategy" for the constituents of the 5th District to have their Congressman hobnobbing with a fellow who is engaged in taking jobs away from the people of his district? Just wondering.
James Thompson is a resident of Fort Mill. A longer version of column is available at fortmilltimes.com.