Lindsey Graham is in a hot seat. As elections are underway around the country, many have turned their attention to the state of South Carolina, where Graham (in all of his backtracking, spineless glory) sits as the senior United States senator. Graham is currently facing a challenger in one Jaime Harrison who, with the added attention, has raised a history-making $57 million in his campaign. But money isn't the only way Graham has been getting beat in the race.
Over the span of the campaign — most evidenced in the debates — Harrison has been slicing through Graham's doubletalk, quoting the senator and pointing out just how much he doesn't keep his promises. All the while, Harison has promised honesty and lined out a path forward. In contrast, Graham's defense has seemingly been that he's a conservative and Harrison has support from out of state. But in a recent forum — it was supposed to be a debate but after Graham refused to get tested for the virus at the center of the ongoing pandemic, Harrison refused to be in the same room with him — the Republican was asked about his LGBTQ+ constituents.
"Hey I'm Louis Yuhasz and I have a question for the candidates," Louis Yuhasz, a Charleston, South Carolina resident said via a video message during the forum. "My partner and I have been married for five years and we've been together for 22. What will the candidates do to ensure our rights are protected — the rights of the gay people, married in the state of South Carolina?"
"Good question," Graham responded. "The law of the land by the Supreme Court is that same-sex marriage is now legal. I accept that ruling. We're a conservative state, there are a lot of religious people around this state that believe in traditional marriage. They're not bigots, they're not neanderthals for believing in that but this man, under our law, has the right to his relationship. I'll honor the law of the land.
"I've tried to be tolerant," he went on. "I've tried to understand that people have different life experiences. I do; I'm not a woman, I'm not a person of color. I listen, but I can tell you right now that when it comes to South Carolina, I think I've been an effective voice for who we are and to the gentleman, the law of the land is that same-sex marriage is legal and we will honor that." And while that statement may seem ok to some, it's worrying within the greater context of this moment.
If the only thing that is keeping Graham from depriving queer couples of their right to marry is the law of the land, he could soon be pushing for those rights to be rolled back. In a recent decision, two Supreme Court justices intimated that marriage equality fell in conflict with the First Amendment and would need to be repealed at some point. Given that Graham is currently spearheading the steamrolling of Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation in the Senate, who is an out-and-out textualist, and likely to come down against marriage equality, this statement seems to carry with it an ominous, if unspoken, idea of "for now." And couched in the rhetoric that he tries to be "tolerant," should be worrying for anyone advocating for LGBTQ+ rights.
Watch the full forum below. Louis's question begins at 46:24