South Carolina governor says he wants a statewide ban on same-sex marriage

South Carolina governor Henry McMaster looks on after the final round of the CJ Cup at Congaree Golf Club

South Carolina governor Henry McMaster said he would enforce a ban on same-sex marriage should the Supreme Court overturn its 2015 landmark ruling. 

McMaster was questioned about his stance on same-sex marriage in South Carolina if the nation’s highest court were to reverse precedent during a gubernatorial debate with his Democratic opponent, former representative Joe Cunningham. 

McMaster said that South Carolina is one of several states that had not legalised same-sex marriage when the Supreme Court ruled on Obergefell v Hodges – the case that made same-sex marriage the law of the land in the US. 

The Republican governor said he would follow South Carolina’s state law if the Supreme Court were to overturn the 2015 ruling. He then espoused his personal views on the definition of marriage before taking a swipe at other LGBTQ+ issues. 

“Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I think marriage ought to be between a man and a woman — just like I think that boys ought to play in boy sports and girls ought to play in girl sports,” McMaster said, NBC News reported.  

“But I mean there’s — you have to have some common sense in this arena, which seems to be changing all the time. But I think our traditions are strong and for a reason.”

Republican-appointed justice Clarence Thomas expressed a desire to revisit historical equal rights cases in light of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade in June. Thomas said the decision opened up the opportunity to reconsider “all of this court’s substantive due process precedent”, including same-sex marriage. 

South Carolina governor Henry McMaster stands at a podium as he speaks into a microphone

South Carolina governor Henry McMaster signed into law a bill banning trans students from fully participating in school sports in May. (Getty)

Cunningham reportedly appeared to be surprised by McMaster’s comments about wishing to ban same-sex marriage statewide. 

“It’s 2022 and governor McMaster wants to ban same-sex marriage — you just heard that tonight, folks,” Cunningham said. 

The Democrat continued: “We have politicians that have been in government so long and have become so calcified in their beliefs and governor McMaster has been a politician literally longer than I’ve been alive, and he’s been taking our state backwards the entire time. 

“Governor McMaster has been leading South Carolina into the 1950s since the 1980s.”

Politicians have been attempting to codify same-sex and interracial marriage in federal law after the Supreme Court rolled back abortion rights earlier this year. 

The House voted 267-167 to pass the Respect For Marriage Act in July with 47 Republicans crossing party lines to support the measure. 

The Senate has yet to vote on the Respect For Marriage Act. Democrat Tammy Baldwin said voting on the crucial measure until after the November elections. 

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said ensuring equal rights to marriage “isn’t a partisan issue” and to “treat it as such is an insult to the millions of families impacted”. 

“This legislation would guarantee that same-sex and interracial couples would not see a day when their rights could be stripped away simply because of who they are or whom they love,” the HRC said. “Now, that guarantee hangs in the balance.”