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S.C. governor says marriage should be 'between a man and a woman' at debate

Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, said he would support a state ban on gay marriage if the Supreme Court strikes down its landmark same-sex marriage ruling.
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South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said Wednesday that he would back his state's defunct law banning same-sex marriage if the Supreme Court were to overturn its 2015 landmark gay marriage ruling.

McMaster, a Republican, made the remark during a debate against former Rep. Joe Cunningham, a Democrat, who is vying to replace him as the state's chief executive.

"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, 75, said. "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."

Cunningham appeared shocked, replying: "It's 2022 and Governor McMaster wants to ban same-sex marriage — you just heard that tonight, folks.

"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," Cunningham, 40, continued. "Gov. McMaster has been leading South Carolina into the 1950s since the 1980s."

Speculation that the Supreme Court would strike down its 2015 same-sex marriage ruling, Obergefell v. Hodges, emerged after the court overturned its landmark abortion ruling, Roe v. Wade, in June, reversing over 50 years of precedent.

In his concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that overturned Roe, Justice Clarence Thomas also called on the court to revisit its 2015 same-sex marriage ruling, Obergefell v. Hodges, among others.

Currently, 29 states have same-sex marriage bans still on the books whose effects were nullified with Obergefell, according to Jason Pierceson, a political science professor at the University of Illinois, Springfield. If the landmark decision were reversed, it would once again fall to the states to decide on the legality of same-sex marriage. 

Lawmakers in Congress have introduced a measure that would federally permit same-sex marriage, the Respect for Marriage Act. The bill passed the Democratic-controlled House in July with bipartisan support but has since stalled in the Senate. Senators are expected to vote on the measure after the November midterm elections.

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