South Carolina lawmakers put on hold Wednesday a youth dating violence that would exclude gay youths, but vowed to continue working on the measure in subcommittee.
The Senate Education Committee voted Wednesday morning to send the bill back to subcommittee, following a second failed attempt by Sen. Phil Leventis to delete the passage concerning sexual orientation.
The bill, introduced in the House last year by Rep. Joan Brady, would require the state Department of Education to develop a dating violence policy recognizing threats, physical or emotional abuse, or stalking occurring on school property, and referring the students to counseling.
. . . House Rep. Greg Delleney amended the bill in 2009 to define "dating partners" to apply only to heterosexual couples. The exclusion of same-sex relationships has drawn much criticism, with gay rights advocates saying the measure further discriminates against students who are already vulnerable to bullying, depression and self-doubt.
Rep. Delleney said he fears including gay teens in the bill's protection would lead to teaching in middle and high schools about same-sex relationships.
"The problem is, the language lessens one group of people over another, and that's wrong," Sen. Joel Lourie said on Wednesday
Although details are sketchy right now, from what I understand members of the SC Pride Movement, SC Equality, and Palmetto AIDS Life Support came out in full force at the meeting.
What happens next is anyone's guess, but for those keeping score, that's two victories for South Carolina's gay community against this exclusionary bill.
Last year when the bill was introduced, the community raised enough fuss to get it tabled.
Will the South Carolina Legislature abandon gay teens?