Ted Cruz’s South Carolina co-chair has epic anti-gay meltdown over Confederate flag

South Carolina’s State Senate voted 37-3 in a second reading yesterday to remove the Confederate flag from state grounds. They will vote again on the bill today before, in all likelihood based on the lopsided nature of yesterday’s vote, sending it to the House. But before that vote took place, they had what can only be described as a spirited debate.

That debate came from Senator Lee Bright (R – Spartansburg) — a co-chair of Ted Cruz’s South Carolina primary campaign — who used his floor time to tie the debate over the Confederate flag to God, Obama, abortion, gay marriage and basically any other noun you would need in order to fill in a conservative mad lib:

There’s a lot to break down here, so let’s review.

You know things are going to be interesting right from the get-go when Bright snaps “Can I get a little order?” to his colleagues. He’s got some truth that he’s itching to speak, so all y’all need to listen up. From there, one would say that Bright went “off the rails,” but he was never really on them in the first place.

Bright leads off his intro by lamenting the fact that President Obama would do anything religious on the same day that the our government flew “the abomination colors.” For Bright, this is the last straw, as he calls on Christians religious people and South Carolinians to “rise up” to push back against this affront to God.

This isn’t incitement to treason, in Bright’s view, because this country was founded on “Juda-yo Christian principles.” As a Jew, I’ve always cringed a bit when I hear Christians proclaim that the Jewish faith was essential to the American founding. It wasn’t. Only 2,000 Jews lived in America in 1776, and Lee Bright’s Southern ancestors didn’t want them there. The “Judeo-Christian” tag-line has emerged for two reasons: First, it allows the Religious Right to wink and nod at the idea of religious pluralism. If they can’t have a truly Christian nation, a religious nation in the Abrahamic tradition is the next-best thing. Second, and more significantly, the term is yet another attempt by conservatives to co-opt Israel and Judaism to promote a racist and apocalyptic foreign policy, in which we need to get all of the Arabs out of Israel — and all of the Jews in — so that Jesus can rapture the believers up to heaven, leaving us Jews to rot.

But wait! Those Judeo-Christian principles are being attacked “by men in black robes who were not elected by you.” Bright, riffing off of Ted Cruz, thinks that the Supreme Court got Obergefell v Hodges so wrong that the Founders made a mistake giving them the opportunity to decide the case without facing electoral consequences. Bright would like to see this remedied by including exemptions for public officials who have religious objections to issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples — as Texas’s Hood County found out yesterday, that isn’t how the 14th Amendment works.

Over a minute into his remarks, Bright finally mentions the flag…only to immediately pivot back to same-sex marriage:

…the national sin that we face today. We talk about abortion, but this gay marriage thing, I believe, will be “one nation gone under,” like President Reagan said…And to sanctify deviant behavior, from five judges…It’s time for us to make our stand, Church…We can talk about a flag all we want but the devil is taking control of this land and we’re not stopping him.

Bear in mind that we’re now two full minutes into Bright’s comments on whether his state should take down the Confederate flag, and he has given us no clue as to where he stands on that particular issue. All he’s offered is that the issue is inconsequential when compared to the Satanic forces that are crippling America from within.

I also couldn’t help but notice that Bright teared up a bit when he got to that part about the devil.

Senator Lee Bright, screenshot from YouTube

Senator Lee Bright, screenshot from YouTube

In the end, Bright has a solution to this whole debate: “If the state’s gotta get out of the business of marriage, let’s get out of the business of marriage because we cannot succumb to what’s being done to the future of this nation.” If only we massively resist the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling by removing the state’s involvement in marriage altogether, that will adequately address the systemic racism embodied in the symbols embedded on and flown above South Carolina’s public spaces.

But Bright solution didn’t mean he was done. Far from it. He wanted to qualify his anti-gay rant against “abomination colors” and “deviant behavior” by reminding us that “Christ teaches us to love the homosexual, but he also teaches us to stand against sin.” So you see, Bright doesn’t hate “the homosexual.” He just hates what “the homosexual” is doing to our country. And they must be stopped. And they certainly shouldn’t be allowed to get married.

Realizing that he was short on time, and perhaps running out of different ways to say that God Hates F*gs, Bright tried (again) to link marriage equality to the Confederate flag issue at hand:

I know how people feel, of all colors, about this. I know we need to respect our brother and love our brother. But we cannot respect this sin in the state of South Carolina…If we’re not going to find some way to push back against the federal government like our forefathers did, or push back against a tyrannical government like the founders of this nation did, let’s at least not put these citizens of South Carolina in a position where they’ve got to choose between their faith and their job.

That’s it. That’s how Bright ended his comments on whether he thinks the Confederate flag should fly above South Carolina’s capitol: A vague allusion to his Confederate forefathers and a plea for a religious exemption so that county clerks don’t have to do their jobs and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if they don’t want to.

Bright would later vote against the measure.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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