Thursday, November 20, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History Emeritus

Unless there is a last-minute intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court, which is highly unlikely, South Carolina will become the thirty-fourth state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage at noon today, November 20, 2014. Numerous couples have lined up to get their marriage licenses that would have been unthinkable even a few short years ago.

The courts have cleared the way. The SC Supreme Court had stayed the implementation last week but that has expired. Federal courts have opened the way for the marriages to proceed. State Attorney General Wilson said he would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court for an eleventh-hour block. Judging from recent actions, that court will not touch this matter.

Times have changed, and fast. This is more bad news for the Lawrence diocese that broke away from the Episcopal Church in defiance of the Church's stand for equal treatment for homosexual people. Lawrence insisted Christianity should not be about "indiscriminate inclusivity." The exclusionary independent diocese that simply condemned homosexuals is being passed by in the rush of history.

UPDATE;     Noon, Nov. 20.      The U.S. Supreme Court denied Wilson's emergency appeal this morning. Interestingly enough, the rejection came from three highly conservative justices. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit, had already dismissed Wilson's appeal. According to news reports, Wilson has vowed to keep fighting although just how remains unclear since he has run out of courts.

Marriage equality has arrived in South Carolina. The first marriage licenses to same-sex couples were issued yesterday (Nov. 19) in Charleston. The rest of the state is expected to follow today now that the Supreme Court has denied the state's appeal.

The Episcopal Church bishop, Charles vonRosenberg, announced months ago that he would permit the blessings of same-sex unions. He left implementation up to the local parishes and missions. The independent bishop, Mark Lawrence, has been well-known as an outspoken opponent of the blessing of same-sex unions and has a record of opposing rights for homosexuals in the Episcopal Church when he was a bishop in the Church. He "disaffiliated" from the Church in 2012 rather than recognize the rights that the Episcopal Church had granted to homosexuals. Lawrence claimed the Church had discarded the ancient Christian understanding of marriage. In truth, the blessing of a same-sex union is not a marriage ceremony. The prayer book did not change the definition of marriage (the same prayer book now in use in the independent diocese). However, the majority of the old diocese went along with him anyway. Later, the schismatic leaders made the ludicrous claim the schism was never about homosexuality. Having used the issue as the wedge to pry away the majority, they dropped it like a hot potato because they knew it was a demographic time bomb. They raced away from the issue of homosexuality and are still running. Have you noticed the almost complete silence from that side on the new events in SC? Sorry, you can run from history but you cannot escape.