Yesterday, the Senate K-12 Education Sub-Committee held another hearing on H3543, the Teen Dating Violence Bill. SC Equality, its lobbyist, and allied organizations like Sean’s Last Wish (a member of the SC Progressive Network) were present–with four witnesses who were prepared to present expert and personal testimony in opposition to the non-inclusive dating violence bill.
Although we were not given the opportunity to present our testimony, fair-minded members of the Senate–Senators Joel Lourie and Phil Leventis–gave voice to our position. They acknowledged that the current language of the bill is discriminatory and privileges some relationships over others, and they argued that the bill should not move forward in its current form.
As expected, Sen. Mike Fair rejected this argument and would not accept the bill without the amendment excluding same sex partners. Realizing that this one issue of defining a dating partner is the only thing that is holding up moving this otherwise sound bill forward, the Chair asked if there was a compromise position that could be taken that would satisfy both sides. Senators Leventis and Fair agreed to discuss this further outside of the hearing. Thus, no action was taken on the bill today.
SC Equality (a member of the SC Progressive Network) is fully committed to seeing that a non-discriminatory dating violence bill–one that protects all children equally–is passed. We will continue to aggressively monitor the progress of this legislation, and should another hearing be scheduled, we will have witnesses ready.
These witnesses will be your voice at the hearing–so we need to hear from you. Should we have an opportunity to testify or to speak with legislators individually, it would be extremely helpful to be able to share stories from those who have experienced dating violence, particularly from the perspective of gay youth. If you have had experiences that you would be willing to share, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will respect all confidentiality.