By a vote of 7-5, Greenville County Council, in a specially called meeting this past Wednesday afternoon, voted in favor a new ordinance that would sunset all resolutions passed before 2016 and that would fix an automatic four-year expiration date on any future resolutions.
This new ordinance was passed with one particular resolution in mind, the 1996 resolution passed by a more conservative council that declared that Greenville County stands for traditional family values and that the gay lifestyle is inconsistent with those values.
Although the meeting was scheduled for 3:00 p.m., by 2:00 p.m., at least 100 people were already seated in council chambers. By the time the meeting actually started, all the seats were filled and about 100 more observers stood outside the open council doors.
Although a number of conservative, traditional family values individuals were in attendance, a rainbow-themed sea of flags, posters and lapel stickers permeated the chambers, making it apparent that the overwhelming majority of those present were in favor of rescinding the nearly quarter-century old resolution.
Some hand-held posters read “Greenville Welcomes Everyone,” while others were similarly worded - “All Are Welcome.” Some t-shirts that were worn read, “Love Wins,” “Pride Crew,” and “Punch Nazis.”
In his opening prayer, Councilman Willis Meadows lamented the disunity among the council and in the community. He ended his prayer in the name of Jesus.
Councilman Lynn Ballard asked that the rules be suspended so that council could bring up the issue in a non-regularly scheduled meeting. Regularly-scheduled meetings of county council take place on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. The rules were suspended by a vote of eight to four.
As soon as the ordinance was put on the floor, Ballard called the question. The council voted in favor of calling the question, which meant that there would be no debate on the matter.
The ordinance then passed by a vote of seven to five, at which point a majority of the crowd stood and cheered. The meeting was over in less than 15 minutes. Council members Mike Barnes, Sid Cates, Joe Dill, Willis Meadows and Bob Taylor voted against the ordinance. Lynn Ballard, Ennis Fant, Butch Kirven, Xanthene Norris, Rick Roberts, Liz Seman and Dan Tripp voted in favor.