11-23-2009

Charleston, South Carolina

On this date the city council of CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA passed ordinances expanding the city’s existing policy prohibiting discrimination in housing to include age, sexual orientation and gender identity. How important is this? In American history there is probably no other conservative city than Charleston.  The Civil War was virtually born in Charleston and it is a city that was founded on the slave trade and the institutionalization of the most conservative, landowning families.  But that was then and this is now.  Although the state is still a conservative hotbed, Charleston is a more cosmopolitan and urbane city.  It also has a spirit of liberalism and openness.  Recent demonstrations, of course, have called this into serious question. But there remains a strong, progressive population there.

So this can only be seen as a sign of how far we have come.  The council also passed a public accommodations ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, disability, age or sexual orientation.

The ordinances were presented to the mayor’s office in August by members of Charleston’s Alliance For Full Acceptance (AFFA), SC Stonewall Democrats, SC Log Cabin Republicans, American Civil Liberties Union and South Carolina Equality — who had successfully introduced similar ordinances in Columbia SC.  Charleston joins a number of other cities in the south with comprehensive anti-discrimination ordinances including Charleston WV, New Orleans LA, Atlanta GA, Covington KY and Columbia SC.