South Carolina lawmakers voted overwhelmingly today to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol’s grounds, but one legislator took the opportunity to deliver an antigay diatribe, saying marriage equality is the work of the devil.
State Sen. Lee Bright mentioned seeing President Obama sing a hymn at the June 26 funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, also a state senator and one of the nine people killed by a gunman at a largely African-American Charleston church last month. That night, Bright said, “I watched the White House be lit up in the abomination colors” — the rainbow colors of the LGBT Pride flag.
“It is time for the church to rise up,” he continued. “It’s time for the state of South Carolina to rise up. Romans Chapter 1 is clear, the Bible is clear. This nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and they are under assault by men in black robes who were not elected by you.”
The five Supreme Court justices who ruled for nationwide marriage equality voted to “sanctify deviant behavior,” said Bright, adding, “The devil is taking control of this land and we’re not stopping him.”
Bright urged the state legislature to allow public employees to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, without repercussions, if the employees have religious objections to same-sex marriage. Last year he introduced a bill to this effect, but it failed to pass, notes The New Civil Rights Movement. He has frequently railed against “the homosexual agenda” and has also introduced legislation calling for the impeachment of federal judges who rule for marriage equality.
His antigay rant during the flag debate isn’t as off-topic as it may seem, Right Wing Watch notes. To him, marriage equality and removal of the flag are both indicators of federal government overreach. In a Facebook post regarding the flag, he wrote, “If the recent SCOTUS decisions teach us anything, it’s that states’ rights are under attack more than ever.” And in an email to supporters, he said, “Over 150 years ago, brave Confederates made a bold stand against an oppressive government that far overstepped its Constitutional limits. Will you please take a stand with me now by signing my online petition to keep the flag flying?”
Last year Bright was the main challenger to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in the Republican primary — Bright, a Tea Party favorite, denounced the reliably conservative Graham as excessively liberal. This year, as Graham seeks the Republican presidential nomination and urges the nation to accept the Supreme Court ruling, Bright is working for one of his opponents — he’s the South Carolina cochair for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.
Watch C-SPAN video of Bright’s rant below.