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A Republican lawmaker in South Carolina engaged in a lengthy, anti-LGBTQ rant while debating anti-abortion legislation last week.
State Sen. Richard Cash blamed LGBTQ equality and the Civil Rights movement for causing a “slow, downward moral decline” in America and called same-sex marriage part of a “rebellion…against God.”
Cash’s rant came amid debate on a so-called “heartbeat bill,” which would ban abortion as soon as a fetus’ heartbeat can be detected.
“We are in a slow, downward moral decline in this country that was accelerated in the 1960s and continued to this day,” Cash said. “I am going to get theological. I believe, as a nation, we are in rebellion against God and God’s moral law. Just flat out rebellion.”
He claimed that Americans had “become numb” to progress because “so many things have happened in our lifetime.”
“It takes about 5 or 10 years, and we become numb to the last thing that happened, because the next thing’s already among us,” Cash said.
Chief among his complaints was marriage equality, which was legalized nationwide by the Supreme Court in a landmark ruling in 2015.
“It wasn’t too long ago that this body — I wasn’t here — but they passed something about marriage, defining marriage between man and a woman,” he said. “The Supreme Court came along and said ‘no, no, no, no, anybody can get married. Two men, two women. We’re going to throw out everything we know about marriage and human history. We’re going to throw out all the state laws that might regulate or govern this ancient institution.'”
Cash complained that people had moved on from marriage equality, adding, “We don’t think about that anymore. It’s always on to the next thing in this downward spiral. Now we’re talking about transgenderism, and it’s frankly so crazy.”
He then switched from an anti-gay rant to an anti-transgender rant, saying it was “hard for me to wrap my head around it, that someone can wake up one day in a man’s body and say, ‘I think this is all messed up. I think I’m a woman…’ or vice versa.”
Cash then raised legislation he had previously supported that would ban transgender females from participating in sports according to their gender identity — part of a growing trend of Republican legislators trying to restrict transgender people’s rights.
“Simply, if you’re a young man, biologically, you cannot claim to be transgender and then compete against young women in sporting events,” Cash declared. “Right?”
He specifically called out a recent executive order by President Joe Biden banning discrimination against LGBTQ people, claiming that the “cultural elite” had made transgender equality “the new front of the civil rights effort.”
“Now we have a President that wants to say, ‘if the boy says she’s a girl, then he — he, she — should be allowed to compete,” Cash said. “Maybe even use the bathrooms and showers because you cannot deny these transgender person their basic rights.”
After a tangent about lesbian former tennis star Martina Navratilova’s comments against transgender women competing according to their gender identity, Cash directly addressed his fellow lawmakers to declare that his point — if he had one beyond abject bigotry — was that, “as a nation, we’re in rebellion against God’s moral law. That’s just one manifestation of it.”
His pro-religion, anti-LGBTQ rant — which even led one Republican lawmaker to ask Cash, “whether you realize that we are not in a church” — drew condemnation from a coalition of LGBTQ organizations.
Alliance for Full Acceptance, the Harriet Hancock Center, Gender Benders, and the Campaign for Southern Equality, and others issued a joint statement saying they wouldn’t allow Cash’s ” “inflammatory tirade against LGBTQ South Carolinians go unchecked.”
“Let me be clear, his words are not just empty vitriol,” Chase Glenn, executive director of the Alliance for Full Acceptance, said. “He has a long history of pushing legislation that would directly threaten the lives and dignity of LGBTQ people in our state. His language and actions only divide our state further, when we should be working harder than ever during this time of national crisis to come together, tackle our shared problems, and build communities where every South Carolinian can thrive.”
Glenn continued: “Treating all people with respect and fairness — whether by protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination, ensuring vulnerable transgender youth are supported, and celebrating love and commitment between same-sex couples — lifts our society up and brings us closer to our nation’s promise of liberty and justice for all.
“Sen. Cash’s speech, however, advocated for the erasure and marginalization of LGBTQ people and was immediately harmful. To any LGBTQ person exposed to his lies and slurs, we send a message of love and support. We see you, we have your back, and we will continue to fight, every single day, for equal rights at every level of government in South Carolina.”
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