For months now, South Carolina Baptist Convention officials and pastors have been declaring a need to protect marriage. An overwhelming vote on Nov. 7 in favor of a marriage amendment to South Carolina’s Constitution has given South Carolina Baptist proponents cause for celebration.
“We expected a positive outcome from today’s vote on the marriage amendment. We are thrilled with an overwhelming majority,” said Joe Mack, director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention’s office of public policy. In the weeks leading up to election night, the public policy office was involved in an intensive effort, mailing information to all South Carolina Baptist churches about the marriage amendment, sending tens of thousands of informative cards and distributing more than 10,000 “Marriage YES” bumper stickers.
Carlisle Driggers, executive director-treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention said, “South Carolinians on Nov. 7 went to the voting booths to uphold what is right about married life. God’s design for marriage has been since the beginning of time one man for one woman.
“Our citizens are to be commended for their commitment to the value of marriage and family relationships as ordained by our Creator God,” he affirmed.
Voters passed the amendment initiative by a 78 to 22 percent margin, stating that marriage should be defined as consisting of the union between one man and one woman, effectively banning same-sex marriages. “The State and its political subdivisions are prohibited from creating or recognizing any right or claim respecting any other domestic union, whatever it may be called, or from giving effect to any such right or benefit recognized in any other state or jurisdiction,” an explanation of the amendment stated in part.
Proponents hope that the overwhelming results will send out a strong signal.
“The vote is a message to legislators and judges that South Carolinians do not support ‘same-sex marriage’ or domestic unions,” said Hal Lane, chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s board of trustees. Lane, pastor of West Side Baptist Church, Greenwood, thanked “everyone who informed the public about this important moral issue.”
“This vote confirms the point that a small percentage of the population can make a loud noise, but God’s word will not be thwarted,” Mack said. “God’s people and common sense have prevailed and we’re glad about that. We will continue to pray that all people’s eyes will be opened to Satan’s lies about life’s choices and that God will protect the innocent,” he added.
Calling the amendment’s passage “a very good thing” for South Carolina, Tony Beam, director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University, emphasized that seven other states “agreed that marriage should be protected.” Noting that the 78 percent approval rating places South Carolina among the states where marriage amendments were passed by the highest margins, Beam remarked, “That speaks well of the people of South Carolina.”
With national elections and decisions regarding abortion and stem cell research in other states “going in a more liberal direction,” that makes it “all the more important” that South Carolina adopts the strongest law possible to protect marriage, he said.
The full text of the marriage amendment ballot initiative was worded as follows:
Must Article XVII of the Constitution of this State be amended by adding Section 15 so as to provide that in this State and its political subdivisions, a marriage between one man and one woman is the only lawful domestic union that shall be valid or recognized; that this State and its political subdivisions shall not create, recognize, or give effect to a legal status, right, or claim created by another jurisdiction respecting any other domestic union, however denominated; that this amendment shall not impair any right or benefit extended by the State or its political subdivisions other than a right or benefit arising from a domestic union that is not valid or recognized in this State; and that this amendment shall not prohibit or limit the ability of parties other than the State or its political subdivisions from entering into contracts or other legal instruments?