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Greenville County Council decision rescinds 1996 anti-LGBT resolution

Staff Report //March 11, 2020//

Greenville County Council decision rescinds 1996 anti-LGBT resolution

Staff Report //March 11, 2020//

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The Greenville County Council today voted to adopt a measure that rescinds a 1996 anti-LGBT resolution.

Council members voted 6-5 on March 3 to adopt the “sunset resolution” that would negate all nonbinding resolutions after four years, but council rules require seven votes to pass. Councilman Ennis Fant was absent March 3 but was there today and cast the deciding vote.

Members of the public attending today's Greenville County Council meeting react to the vote.The decision rescinds any nonbinding resolution after four years but key to the decision was negating a 1996 resolution, which said the LGBT community is not in keeping with county community standards. An overflow crowd March 3 voiced spirited arguments for and against the resolution.

After the measure failed during the first vote, pressure to change it picked up steam quickly, including a statement from Greenville Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carlos Phillips, followed a day later — today — by the United Way of Greenville CountyGreenville Partnership for PhilanthropyCommunity Foundation of GreenvilleHollingsworth FundsElbert W. Rogers Foundation and the Jolley Foundation. Phillips also sent a personal letter to council members. 

“Almost all businesses, in particularly international businesses, have hiring clauses and are very, very big about nondiscrimination, or excluding any people, or group of people,” Councilman Lynn Ballard said after the vote today. He said making statements about morality is not the purview of the County Council.

Ballard pointed out that Anderson County sunsets resolutions after one year. He said leaving the 1996 resolution in place could jeopardize the county’s role in hosting events such as the recent SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament. South Carolina was once a banned state for the NCAA, which would not permit sanctioned events to take place in the state because the Confederate flag few on the Statehouse grounds.

Five council members voted against rescinding the old resolution, including Joe Dill.

“It’s been on the books 24 years, and this is the best growth that Greenville County has even had,” Dill said. “If you want to get rid of one resolution, get rid of one resolution, not 1300.”

Dill said he had received letters from Greenville County businesses for and against rescinding the old resolution.

The Greenville Chamber’s Phillips said he was glad the County Council made the decision and looked forward to working with them. He said the ’96 resolution could have impacted talent retention to the area and threatened public events held in the area.

“There needed to be a path forward to rescind that 1996 resolution. The chamber was one of many voices to express that,” Phillips said. “I’m proud of how those voices came together to send a unified clarion call.”

Ross Norton and Molly Hulsey contributed to this story.