The city council of Folly Beach voted unanimously Tuesday to pass a non-discrimination ordinance with protections based on sexual orientation, becoming the fourth governing body in South Carolina with such a measure.
According to the Post and Courier, the ordinance makes it illegal to discriminate in public accommodations based on sexual orientation, race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, familial status, and disability. Similar ordinances in Charleston, Columbia and Richland County extend to public accommodations and housing. Violators of the ordinance for Folly Beach, an island community near Charleston, can face a $500 fine or 30 days in jail.
A news release from South Carolina Equality said the ordinance resulted from a request their organization and the Alliance For Full Acceptance delivered to city leaders last May. Retiring council member Charlie McCarty, 78, sponsored the legislation as one of his last acts in office.
The ordinance marks another local breakthrough for South Carolina, which lacks statewide protections for LGBT residents. South Carolina Equality said in the statement that it plans to get ordinances passed in four other municipalities in the near future.
“This is a victory for the LGBT community in a small, challenging place to live as an openly LGBT person,” said Christine Johnson, the group’s executive director, in a telephone interview with The Advocate.
The Folly Beach ordinance currently provides protections for real or perceived sexual orientation, but not gender identity. Johnson said that absence was the result of an “unintentional” deletion during a fast-moving technical amendments process as lawmakers, who based the language on the Charleston ordinance, corrected portions of the code to reflect Folly Beach. The other local ordinances in South Carolina offer protections inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Johnson anticipated that council members would be able to reinstate the language with protections for real or perceived gender identity within “the next couple of months.”
“They felt unanimous and completely in favor,” she said. “No one had objections to it in the first place.”