When Rep. Gary Simrill's (R-York) bill to ban same-sex marriages went to the floor of the House April 24, it passed 82 0. The Senate passed a similar version of the bill May 2.
Led by Republicans who, ironically, claim to champion getting the government out of our lives the bills would also void same-sex unions performed in other states. The fact that same-sex marriages are not legal in any state did not slow down the rush to manage the personal affairs of consenting adults in South Carolina.
Legislators are concerned that the Hawaii Supreme Court will uphold same-sex marriages in that state, which would give gay couples the opportunity to fly to Hawaii, get married, return to South Carolina and claim the same insurance and tax benefits available to "breeders."
Simrill and other sponsors dismissed concerns over the bill's constitutionality, arguing that the union of one man and one woman in marriage is sacred and beyond the law.
Displaying a sophomoric humor to match their intellect, House members jokingly debated an amendment offered by Rep. Doug McTeer (D-Hampton) to prohibit farmers from marrying their pigs.
Is it possible that the fixation our state legislators have about homosexuality reveals a certain unease about their own sexual identity?
Gov. Beasley's assault on full-day kindergarten has folks wondering if the governor is playing with a full deck.
At first, the governor was totally opposed to funding a full day of school for five-year-olds. Ignoring the studies cited by his own Department of Education, the governor repeatedly claimed that there is no scientific basis for believing that full-day kindergarten better prepares kids than do half-day classes.
Beasley has been trying to alarm his conservative brethren by claiming that the Senate bill deprives parents of their "choice," and demanding that "full-day kindergarten must be totally optional."
The governor either hasn't read the proposed legislation for full-day kindergarten or believes that our state's citizenry is too stupid to notice he is being disingenuous. The bill clearly states that full-day, half-day and no-day are options the parents get to choose.
When it became apparent that the Senate was going to support full-day classes, Beasley tried a new tactic. He got his black staff person to put together a press conference at a black church kindergarten to announce his support for full-day classes.
After Beasley used the opportunity to announce that he would only support full-day classes if it included a voucher system that gave parents money to send their kids to a private school, some of the participants in the press conference felt they had been suckered.
Rev. Roscoe Wilson, pastor of St. John's Baptist where the press conference was held, later said that he didn't have a clue that the governor was going to use the occasion to call for a voucher system. Rep. Alma Byrd (D-Richland) was heard to say, "They lied to me."
When Beasley sent out an editorial defending his position on kindergarten vouchers, it claimed to have been co-written by Byrd. The governor's office had more egg on its face when Dr. Byrd asked that her name be removed from the piece.
On May 2, the Senate, with the help of five Republicans, passed its full-day bill and rejected the governor's voucher plan.
While the bill calls for spending $20 million a year to fund full-day kindergarten, an opponent of the voucher system notes that Beasley's proposal would require $20 million just to subsidize the middle-class kids already in private kindergartens.
It's no secret that Beasley wants to use the kindergarten voucher ploy as a foot in the door for privatizing the entire education system a plan most educators view as class-biased and racist.
The governor's best bet at this point is to get his minions in the house to fight the kindergarten bill in the budget. He really doesn't want the blood of a veto against early childhood education on his family valuing hands.
Two years ago, the state legislature ordered DHEC to write strict new regulations governing doctor offices and clinics that perform first-trimester abortions on an outpatient basis.
The regulations, which are scheduled to take effect in late June, would micromanage everything from air flow to door size. There is no phase-in period for the regulations, and there is likely to be a clamor from the anti-choice crowd to force an immediate shutdown of clinics and doctor offices that are not in full compliance.
While the anti-choice contingent chortles over its victory, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers plan to go to court to block the regulations from going into effect.
With little public notice and less state oversight, SCE&G signed on to a list of 14 U.S. power companies expressing an interest in using their reactors to make nuclear bomb material.
While SCE&G claims to be interested only in learning more about the possibility of providing tritium for hydrogen bombs, no state authority seems concerned about a private utility entering the nuclear weapons business.
SCE&G's reactor 30 miles north of Columbia and Duke Power's Catawba unit near Rock Hill are being considered as potential sources for the nuclear weapons material.
Since commercial nuclear facilities have been banned from making nuclear weapons material since 1954, this proposal would make our local utilities international terrorists.
Should this harebrained scheme become reality, every time you flip a light switch you could be helping to make a nuclear bomb.
When Rep. Tim Rogers (D-Richland) announced he wouldn't seek a seventh term, contenders rushed to fill the void left by the Shandon liberal.
Democrat James Smith and Republican Robert Adams are expected to win their party nominations and face each other in November.
Smith, an attorney with the McNair firm, is Roger's heir apparent. Adams was campaign manager for David Beasley's gubernatorial race. Adam's father, Weston Adams, is a board member of the ultraconservative S.C. Policy Council and a former Reagan ambassador.
While Smith and Adams couldn't be further apart politically, they are close in other ways. They are first cousins.
If you have been feeling guilty over your notion that Rep. Hunter Limbaugh (R-Florence) suffers from racial insensitivity, rest easy.
Limbaugh was pushing a bill that would ban the state from discriminating against, or giving preferential treatment to, people on the basis of race.
While Limbaugh denied that the bill was designed to dismantle affirmative action programs, he has often been heard defending the "boot strap" theory and the "level playing field."
Limbaugh's politics may be a comfort to the David Duke crowd, but the real relief is that Limbaugh couldn't get enough of his colleagues to buy his line to get his bill considered.
While Democratic candidate Elliott Close may not have noticed that Sen. Thurmond is looking a bit dote or is too polite to say so Strom has a new opponent who doesn't mind pointing out the obvious.
Rep. Harold Worley (R-Horry) is a wealthy Myrtle Beach businessman who became a Republican in late 1994 after supporting Clinton for president and Joe Riley for governor. "We all make mistakes," he said.
Worley, who is using Thurmond's age as a campaign strategy, is a godsend for the Close camp. He doesn't have a chance of beating Thurmond for the Republican nomination, but he will conveniently inject the senator's age as an issue, letting Close maintain the high road.
It is fitting that comedian and former Jim Miles public relations flack Michael Graham has been hired to manage Worley's kamikaze campaign.
Close, meanwhile, faces a last-minute opponent in the Democratic primary, Orangeburg photographer Cecil Williams. Williams ran in the Democratic senatorial primary in 1984, and received 140,000 votes with an outlay of $300.
Williams, an African American, considered running this time as a Republican, but after a cold reception at GOP headquarters "They didn't even invite me to sit down," he said he filed as a Democrat.
"It would take a miracle for me to win," Williams said, "but I believe in miracles."
It seems that Gov. Beasley isn't the only member of the First Family fooling people with kindergarten plans.
The First Mother recently put in a visit to check out the kindergarten program at A.C. Moore Elementary in Columbia.
It's not known if the Beasleys are considering public kindergarten for the First Children or just showing some hypocritical support for public education.
The First Mother hung out in the back of one of the classrooms, accompanied by a large African-American bodyguard.
After she left, one of the other teachers innocently inquired, "Who was that nice young couple?"