• Joe Cunningham

Joe Cunningham: Does Henry McMaster still oppose marriage equality?

Ahead of Famously Hot Pride in Columbia this weekend, Democratic nominee for Governor Joe Cunningham has called on Governor Henry McMaster to state his position on marriage equality.


Governor McMaster has a long history of bigoted statements about the LGBTQ community and opposition to marriage equality. In response to President Clinton overturning the ban on LGBTQ military members in 1993, McMaster publicly supported secession.


“If that’s so, we’ve gotta call up the boys at The Citadel and tell them to polish up a cannon. We’ve got to secede again,” McMaster said at the time.


He criticized the late Senator Fritz Hollings for cosponsoring a bill that would prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. “I want to know why he sponsored the the gay-rights bill that allows homosexuals to be recruited to teach in schools, among other things,” McMaster said at the time.


He denounced former U.S. Senate candidate Elliott Close for accepting money from LGBTQ voters. According to The State newspaper, McMaster even held a press conference to “lambaste Close for taking money from gay and lesbian citizens for his campaign.”


As Attorney General, McMaster also led the successful fight to amend the state constitution to ban marriage equality in 2006, even serving as Honorary State Chairman of the campaign spearheaded by the Palmetto Family Council.

Earlier this year, Justice Clarence Thomas indicated his support for overturning Obergefell v. Hodges, which would send marriage equality back to the states. If this happens, South Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage would immediately go into effect and thousands of marriages would be invalidated. Senator Lindsey Graham then voiced his support for Justice Thomas’ position, agreeing that this is a decision that is best left to the states.


“The people of South Carolina need to know where the Governor stands on marriage equality,” Cunningham said. “If the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell v. Hodges and sends marriage equality back to the states, thousands of existing marriages in South Carolina will be invalidated. Does Henry McMaster really support that?”


Cunningham said, “This is a guy who said we should secede over ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and led the fight to ban marriage equality in our state. Does he truly believe that, in 2022, people should not have the freedom to marry the person they love? Or is this just another example of his big-government agenda to rip fundamental freedoms away from South Carolinians?”


Cunningham will speak to supporters at Famously Hot Pride in Columbia tomorrow afternoon.