After more than thirteen hours of debate and testimony, along both sides of the issue, late last night the South Carolina House of Representatives voted 94-20 to remove the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds.
And while the vote count was more than the two-thirds needed, it came after hours of speeches with some lawmakers proposing amendment after amendment—sixty-eight in all. The bill now goes to Governor Nikki Haley, who has said she will sign it into law, and the state has twenty-four hours to take the flag down.
"Today, as the Senate did before them, the House of Representatives has served the State of South Carolina and her people with great dignity. It is a new day in South Carolina, a day we can all be proud of, a day that truly brings us all together as we continue to heal, as one people and one state." — Governor Haley
On Tuesday, the South Carolina Senate voted 36-3 to bring down the flag and then passed along that simple bill to the House where things didn’t go so smoothly.
When debate started in the House around noon on Wednesday, flag supporters began proposing one amendment after another, trying to keep the issue from coming to a vote; some proposals included holding a referendum over the flag during the 2016 presidential election — I guess supporters figured by then people might have forgotten those Charleston victims. Another proposal suggested having a museum calculate the costs of displaying the flag and return a budget for legislators to consider in January. And there was even a proposal to replace the flag pole with a pole honoring black soldiers who fought for the Confederacy ... because it sounds good to have a flag pole honoring black soldiers holding up a Confederate flag. And of course some lawmakers decided if the flag goes, then other monuments on statehouse grounds — including a flower bed! — need to be removed as well.
Just anything so that there’d be no vote. And that’s when all this ridiculousness became too much; all these idiotic motions and proposals and ideas to delay the actual discussion. So Representative Jenny Horne, a Republican, stood up, weeping:
"I cannot believe that we do not have the heart in this body to do something meaningful, such as take a symbol of hate off these grounds."
"We are going to be doing this all summer long, and if any of you vote to amend, you are ensuring that this flag will fly beyond Friday. And for the widow of Senator Pinckney and his two young daughters, that would be adding insult to injury, and I will not be a part of it." — Jenny Horne
It’s been a long battle — since 1962 ... since 2000 ... since late last month — and a bitter fight over the flag being a symbol of hate, to some, and of heritage, to others. What it is, and what I’ve said, it history, and should be remembered and seen, but it should not be on state property representing all of the people.
Truly, South Carolina, you did something right today.