Attitudes toward gay marriage were guarded in Aiken County in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision believed to legalizesame-sex marriage in South Carolina.
“I’m a Republican, and so any time a law is forced on the people from the bench, I’m kind of opposed to that,” said ChrisCorley, the party’s nominee for the 84th House District, a seat held by retiring Rep. Roland Smith.
“It’s not so much the issue itself but the way we’ve gone about getting here,” said the Graniteville man. On Monday the justiceschose not to take up an appeal of a decision legalizing gay marriage from a court with jurisdiction over South Carolina. Meanwhile,S.C. Attorney General Alam Wilson has said he’ll keep working on a case in which a lesbian couple married in Washington, D.C.,has asked South Carolina to recognize it.
Rosie Berry, a North Augusta Democrat, who is also running for the 84th District in the Nov. 4 election, could not be reachedWednesday.
In recent years, opposition to same-sex marriage has been particularly strong in Aiken County. In 2006, county votes surpassedSouth Carolina as a whole in 2006, when presented with the opportunity to declare that marriage is strictly between a manand a woman.
“The law of South Carolina is abundantly clear. ‘Marriage in this state will consist only of a union of one man and one woman,'”Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken said Wednesday.
Eight years ago, the amendment received 78 percent of the vote in South Carolina, while support in Aiken County was 82 percent.In neighboring Edgefield County, 83 percent of voters approved the constitutional amendment. Barnwell County voters were moreconservative: nearly 89 percent supported the amendment.
“I respect the wishes of the people, but it seems federal judges do not,” said Taylor, who said 83 percent of his districtin 2006 voted for the amendment.
“If the desires of a majority of South Carolinians has changed in recent years, then it would be best if they had the opportunityto vote to repeal that 2006 amendment,” Taylor said.
“Given that opportunity, I believe a majority would still vote to protect marriage as it has been defined for centuries.”
Rep. Rep. Bill Clyburn, D-Aiken, however, said he has noticed that attitudes toward gay marriage have shifted.
“I believe that it appears that that’s the mode of the country, and some people are reluctant to speak out on it, but watchingthe trend, what is happening from a few years back to this point, it has reached a point of acceptance,” he said.
Asked whether taxpayer dollars should be further expended to defend South Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage, as AttorneyGeneral Alan Wilson may do, Clyburn called it a difficult question.
“I just follow the law,” said the legislator.
As for his own beliefs on same-sex marriage, Clyburn said, “For me, personally, I made my choice.”
The AP contributed to this report.