A bill to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse has passed the state's House of Representatives early Thursday morning in a 94-20 vote. South Carolina legislators expected the bill to receive harsher opposition in the House, where many Republicans remained divided over the contentious battle flag, than it did in the South Carolina Senate. The bill now moves to the desk of Gov. Nikki Haley, who is expected to sign the legislation and banish the long-lasting symbol of the Confederacy to a museum once and for all.
Today, as the Senate did before them, the House of Representatives has served the State of South Carolina and her people with great dignity. I'm grateful for their service and their compassion. 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.
This vote comes just two days after the bill sailed through the South Carolina Senate, where it was approved in a final vote by a 36-3 margin. But that vote did not come without debate. On Monday, one Republican state legislator, Sen. Lee Bright, took to the floor to not only show his support for the Confederate, but to also rail against the legalization of same-sex marriage by a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.
"Our governor called us in to deal with the flag that sits out front, let's deal with the national sin that we face today," Bright said as he addressed the state Senate chamber. "We talk about abortion but this gay marriage thing, I believe will be one nation gone under like President Reagan said. If we’re not one nation under God, we’ll be one nation gone under."
But most legislators in South Carolina did not agree with Bright's rant. This unprecedented move to formally remove the controversial flag from its stately position has divided white Southerners, many of whom have long saw the battle flag as a source of pride rather than a symbol of racial supremacy. A few days before debate was scheduled to begin in the state Senate, Haley told the Today show that removing the Confederate flag was not going to be "easy" or "painless" for the people of South Carolina.
"You always want to think that today is better than yesterday, that we're growing as a state, we're growing as a country," Haley added to the Today show. "When something like this happens, you reflect and you say, 'Have we changed enough?'"
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