Former resident Lauren Hale wants to get to the bottom of the so-called Purity Pledge rumored to require Republicans pledge not to have premarital sex.
Laurens, South Carolina, is a small classic southern town in the Upstate. There’s not much to it, really, trust me, I lived there for a few years. There’s a Wal-Mart distribution Center on the outskirts of town just off Interstate 385. A few abandoned mills are spread throughout town and a Wal-Mart store along the main drag. Residents are quiet, quasi-religious, and famously unfriendly to outsiders. So why is a such tiny town in the media spotlight?
On February 28, the Laurens County GOP allegedly passed a resolution requiring Republican Candidates to sign a document hailed in many media outlets as a “Purity Pledge.” But is that what really happened in Laurens County?
According to Dianne Belsom, the Vice-Chair of the Laurens County GOP, “We are NOT requiring a “purity pledge.” What we did was passed a resolution requiring any candidate running on the Republican Ticket to sign a statement that they have read the State Republican Party Platform and are in agreement with it. The mis-information that if a candidate has had pre-marital sex or has ever looked at porn then they are disqualified, is … completely false.”
Ms. Belsom included in her email a copy of the resolution, which, as she claims, does not include anywhere a statement asking candidates to pledge they have abstained from pre-marital sex or forgo viewing pornography upon signing.
The pledge, which Ms. Belsom insists is based upon the State GOP platform, does however, include statements regarding marriage and pornography.
• High regard for the institutions of Marriage & Family
The South Carolina Republican Party considers the sacred institution of marriage as fundamental to the stability, betterment and perpetuation of our society. Many economic, emotional, and physical ills in our culture could be avoided if abstinence before and faithfulness in marriage were the standard of behavior. We oppose efforts to redefine the marriage unit to accommodate proponents of homosexual “marriages” and oppose any legislation which legally recognizes same-sex marriage, civil unions, or allows such couples to adopt children or provide foster care.
• The abolition of Pornography in our society
The South Carolina Republican Party condemns the publication and consumption of obscene, pornographic and sexually violent material, as a major contributor to moral decay and a fundamental threat to our domestic tranquility. We favor legislation to prohibit the distribution of obscenity and pornography by print, telephone, television, video, computer, the Internet, or any other means.
Interestingly, the State GOP party’s own Executive Director, Matt Moore, is quoted in an article at GreenvilleOnline.com about the Laurens County Values Resolution:
“The state GOP does not condone the Laurens County resolution,” Moore told GreenvilleOnline.com.
“County parties are autonomous and can support Republican candidates in any way they choose,” Moore said.
“However, they can’t prevent a candidate from filing as a Republican if the candidate meets the state’s qualifications. We don’t support any resolutions by counties that violate state law.”
In an emailed interview, Moore echoed his statements to Greenville Online. When asked however, why the State GOP was distancing themselves from the Laurens County GOP party, Moore replied, “ The State GOP has not distanced itself from the Laurens GOP and we look forward to working with the county in the future. In this case, it was critically important to follow the law. South Carolina elections face enormous state and federal scrutiny under the Voting Rights Act.”
The Laurens County Value resolution is indeed in step with the State GOP Party Platform. Reading the State Platform, however, brings to light and memory the affairs and misdeeds of former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, as he is lauded in certain sections for his achievements and efforts to “…further increase the efficiency of state government through increased government restructuring…”
Sanford disappeared in 2009 for 15 days. After his disappearance and subsequent admission of an affair with an Argentine woman, Sanford was censured by the House Judiciary Committee and finally the entire South Carolina House of Representatives in January 2010.
The South Carolina GOP Party Platform proclaims the following:
We the People of the South Carolina Republican Party understand that the assurance of Domestic Tranquility is a two- fold task requiring commitments both from the governing and the governed. The civil government, charged with protecting its citizenry from evil, must also encourage the same to seek goodness, and live justly. We recognize that Civil Law is often used as a moral guide. Conversely, citizens must recognize that the “pursuit of happiness” is not a license for all forms of hedonism, violence, and irresponsibility. We readily recognize that character counts, and private choices often have public consequences.
If the Party truly believes the above statement at the state level, then why did their legislation fail, with bipartisan support, to impeach Sanford when faced with documents citing 37 violations? Legislators dismissed the impending impeachment, proclaiming they “had more pressing matters.”
How can a political organization proclaim the expectation of morality and upright behaviour when, even in their own Platform documents, they laud the achievements of a member who has publicly failed to follow his own party’s expectations? Moore rebutted, “The Republican Party platform proudly sets a high standard. Individuals sometimes do fall short – yet that does not mean the Republican Party should stop working towards freedom and opportunity for all Americans. Working together, a rising tide can lift all ships, so to speak.”
Is the Laurens County Values Resolution the equivalent of slut-shaming for men? Possibly. Is it wrong for a private organization to ensure those wishing to represent them are in step with their belief and value system? No. Do we have a right to question their values and morals if they don’t fit in with our own? Absolutely.
Americans are easily galvanized over sex these days. Issues from Gay rights, abortion, birth control, slut-shaming, etc, are all hot topics when it comes to the political arena. Issues don’t get any more personal than when you involve genitals. Should we expect candidates we support to be representative of our own lifestyles including our morals and ethics? Yes. This is why, though, America is an amazing country. Here, we have the freedom to speak our mind and share our thoughts without fear of death or punishment from our government, unlike other countries throughout the world.
The core issue here with the Laurens County Values Resolution isn’t the perceived requirement of upright morals and ethics, it’s the fear of losing the freedom to be yourself under the guise of imposed religious guidelines you may not follow. Loss of personal freedom, I believe, is something for which all Americans, regardless of personal ideology will always passionately fight.
Image courtesy of DonkeyHotey