SC Republicans want to call your relationship a ‘parody marriage’

Catrina Burks is assisted up the steps in Bronson Park before Rev. Nathan Dannison unites her and her wife Marashette Burks in marriage in Kalamazoo, Mich. on Friday, June 26, 2015. States are still fighting the Supreme Court ruling that recognized their marriage. Daytona Niles, AP

Lawmakers in South Carolina have introduced a bill that would define marriages between two people of the same sex as “parody marriages.”

Six Republican South Carolina representatives introduced the “Marriage and Constitution Restoration Act” last week. The act proposes the term “parody marriage” for “any form of marriage that does not involve one man and one woman.”

If passed, the bill would ban the state from recognizing these marriages.

“Pure prejudice is what that is. Pure outright prejudice,” said Jeff March, the president of SC Pride.

He explained that the word “parody” itself is an insult: LGBTQ people aren’t getting married just to mock straight people, and implying that that’s what they’re doing devalues their relationships.

The bill obviously runs afoul of the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which required all states to recognize all marriages regardless of the genders of those involved.

But the authors have a bizarre argument about why that decision was wrong. They wrote that that idea of having a sexual orientation is “implicitly religious,” part of the “religion of Secular Humanism.” The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the state from enacting a state religion, therefore the state has to reject marriage between two people of the same sex.

According to them, people who want to ban same-sex marriage are taking the “neutral” position, and those who favor marriage equality are imposing their “Secular Humanism” religious beliefs on others.

While their argument might sound novel, it’s just a gussied up version of conservatives’ demand that their “deeply held religious beliefs” be respected by forcing others to live by them. The heart of both arguments – state recognition of diverse peoples oppresses them as Christians – is the same.

The bill also says that the state will no longer enforce any anti-discrimination laws with respect to sexual orientation. It is unclear exactly what the lawmakers are referring to in this section; South Carolina’s anti-discrimination law does not include sexual orientation or gender identity and the state does not have a hate crimes law.

The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

March said that he doesn’t believe it will pass. Even if it did pass, it would have an uphill battle in court because the argument isn’t exactly persuasive.

Nevertheless, March says that the bill is divisive and hateful. “It’s written with hate. I can’t imagine there are state officials that put this in writing.”

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