The Democratic Governor’s Association isn’t taking a side on Democratic South Carolina gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Vincent Sheheen’s support for the state’s same-sex marriage ban.
In an interview with The State newspaper DGA spokesman Danny Kanner was asked whether Sheheen’s opposition to gay marriage would be a problem for the DGA, since Democrats have nationally embraced same-sex marriage and other protections for LGBT individuals.
“This is Vincent Sheheen’s race and we support candidates who share the policy priorities and values of their state as that candidate best sees those carried out,” Kanner told the newspaper in response. “That’s his view. The DGA does not have a view on that issue. Our view is we need to elect more Democratic governors. And we believe Vincent Sheheen can win.”
In a follow-up email to TPM, Kanner said, “The mission of the DGA is to elect more Democratic governors, not to dictate policy positions to candidates. We do not have litmus tests.”
Kanner made the remarks during a visit to South Carolina to meet with Democratic party officials about Sheheen’s run for governor. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) is a top pickoff target for Democrats in 2014 and Sheheen, who challenged Haley before, is expected to be the lead Democratic challenger against the South Carolina governor. Haley beat Sheheen by just four percentage points in 2010.
Sheheen has made headlines over his stance on marriage, which he defines as “between a man and a woman.” According to the Observer, Sheheen voted in favor of South Carolina same-sex marriage bans in both 2005 and 2007.
But in September Sheheen, seemed to quietly extend an olive branch to the LGBT community in South Carolina by appearing at a pride festival in Columbia, S.C. It was seen by some as a sign that Sheheen may still be able to advocate for LGBT rights while not necessarily supporting gay marriage.
“As far as I know it’s the first time any candidate for governor on either side has ever taken the stage at the Pride Festival,” SC Equality director Ryan Wilson said, according to the Charleston City Paper.
On Thursday Haley and Attorney General Alan Wilson (R) filed court papers arguing that South Carolina does not have to recognize marriages between same-sex couples that were performed in other states.