Housing leaders discuss affordability in Lowcountry

Housing is not a problem, it is a human need — just like water — according to Charlie Smith, a real estate agent and member of the Charleston County Planning Commission. “Everybody has to have some kind of shelter. We’ve gotten away from that in the work we do,” Smith said Friday during the second annual Tri-County Housing Summit at Trident Technical College. “We’re very generous toward people who are thirsty; we’re generous toward people who are hungry and haven’t had food; but we’re not always so generous to people who don’t have a place to live.”

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“Desperate to come out”

Why is it that when we “come out” all we ever worry about is what we are going to lose? I can tell you that what this man is going to lose if he does not come out is his wonderful partner. No one is going to do the kind of things for him that a partner does and then have to endure the shame that comes each time his partner denies him to his mother or anyone else.

Desperate to come out needs to do the math and ask himself…”How many years do I expect to be on this Earth? Do I plan to be happy during that time? Who will be with me longer, my mother or my partner who makes life worth living?” Give your mother some credit. She’s probably known that you were gay since you were five. Unfortunately, the only tools that she has ever had to deal with this came from her church. She clearly needs better tools. PFLAG comes to mind.

Chances are that “Desperate to come out” has taken years to become comfortable with himself. He should give his mother the chance to do the same and understand that it might take her a bit of time as well. Coming out is about what we gain, not what we lose. Sometimes we need to lose people who shame us if we cannot educate them by being who we really are. When they realize what THEY have lost, they often come back with a new and healthier attitude; but someone has to make the first move.

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When we replace respect with “political correctness” there can be neither respect nor remorse.

Public officials should not have to make the case for the retirement of any Confederate relic…particularly when those relics are being displayed on public property cloaked in a religious context. The flag is divisive in the historical sense and by displaying it outside of a museum, its divisiveness is projected into the present and future. What do we gain by projecting unnecessary divisiveness into the present and future of our state and people? Nothing!

There used to be a quaint little concept many years ago called “being respectful of others”. It was the mainstay of my family’s operating principles. During the Presidential election of 1980 and in the years since, this positive concept of “being respectful” toward others has been grotesquely corrupted into the negative, destructive and dismissive concept of “being politically correct”. The newer term gives intolerant people the license to be disrespectful and to translate that disrespect into public policy by dismissing and labeling those who have differing opinions. The Heritage Act is a perfect example of this. Flying a divisive flag on public property and defending it by calling those who detest it “Intolerant” is also a perfect example of this.

I applaud Councilman Darby for raising this issue at his own peril. This is about being respectful. If you are flying that flag, you are in some respect living what it symbolizes.

I am the 3rd great grandson of Sen. John Herman Kinsler, one of the Signers of the Ordinance of Secession. After the Civil War he was very remorseful that he had been partly responsible for all that had resulted from the war…not the least of which were 600,000 deaths and the destruction of his home state. He spent his last years in the Peace Movement and was buried in an unmarked grave so that no tribute would be paid to him in death as a result of what he had done in life. This is what is lacking in the heritage argument…remorse. But then again, real remorse must be predicated upon respect for the other person. When we replace respect with “political correctness” there can be neither respect nor remorse. 

I ask again, what have we gained by being disrespectful in this way and what on Earth do we ever HOPE to gain by continuing to be disrespectful in this way?

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The outcome of Mr. Greenleaf’s primary had EVERYTHING to do with his sexuality

“Asked whether the outcome [of the Democratic Primary] might have had something to do with [Democratic Congressional candidate Ed] Greenleaf being openly gay, both [State Dem. Party Chair Jaime] Harrison and Greenleaf say they don’t think so.”


Well, nobody EVER wants to be the one to say so…even when these things desperately NEED to be said. So here ya go…The outcome of Mr. Greenleaf’s primary had EVERYTHING to do with his sexuality…the twist in this race was that his problem was not with the voters. Greenleaf’s problem was the same problem that every openly LGBT Democratic candidate in South Carolina has ever had…the institutional homophobia of the South Carolina Democratic Party…whose duplicity makes me grateful that a mouth can only have two sides.

It was only in 2002 that the Democratic Party of South Carolina came to the realization that gay people could raise a TON of money for Democratic candidates (read THEIR HAND-PICKED DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES). That was the watershed moment during which gay people suddenly became valuable to the South Carolina Democratic Party…not important or EVEN respected mind you, just valuable.

For the past decade the SC Democratic Party has sucked everything they could get out of South Carolina’s LGBT community in terms of time, talent and treasure. But while our wallets were being snatched from our pockets by one hand of the State Democratic Party, the party’s other hand was instinctively winding up for the sucker punch that ALWAYS follows the annual “fleecing of the gays”.

This begs the question…just who is it who controls those hands that are taking our valuable LGBT time, talent and treasure and which never fail to then turn around and slap us in the face? The answer to that is the party’s Gubernatorial Candidate and the party strategists who have been guiding Democratic Gubernatorial candidates for years.

When I ran for State House in 2002, I was the first non-incumbent openly gay candidate in the history of the state. I ran again in 2004 finishing with 48% of the vote…against the notoriously bigoted Republican John Graham Altman in a district that had been created just for him.

Our campaign was commended by political journalists as being the best organized and the best funded for a state house race that they had seen in years. Even with that kind of praise from the press and from party insiders who knew us, then-Democratic Governor Jim Hodges was reported to have told the Chairman of the Charleston County Democratic Party “Get Charlie Smith off the ticket whatever it takes! An openly gay candidate is going to cost me 5% of the vote statewide.”

As it turned out, Governor Hodges helicopter ride during Hurricane Floyd is what caused him to lose the race. OUR campaign actually brought voters to the polls that Hodges would never have otherwise benefited from…openly LGBT voters who had never participated before.

The 2005 SC Democratic Convention followed the November 2004 election where I had received 48% of the vote against Altman. The Charleston delegation was seated front and center about ten feet away from the convention podium. I proudly sat in that spot knowing that I had twice personally taken on one of the biggest bullies in South Carolina politics. I had raised a quarter of a million dollars for two races that had typically cost Altman about $15K each to win. I sat there knowing that our campaign had garnered 48% of the vote against the biggest bigot in the state house and expecting that our campaign might at least get a mention. The importance of the SC House Seat 119 race was repeatedly underscored by every speaker at the podium that day…and I mean without exception! Altman was ridiculed over and over again all day long…but the candidate and the campaign that had done the work and had fought the good fight TWICE was never even mentioned…not once. That’s how the Democratic Party of SC treats its LGBT candidates. Use ’em and lose ’em!

The next state convention in 2006 brought with it the Vince Sheheen-supported anti-gay marriage amendment. At this convention Vince Sheheen and his uncle made sure through their manipulations of the State Democratic Party Executive Committee that an LGBT-positive resolution (which had been unanimously adopted at the Charleston County Democratic Convention) would be rendered meaningless by their scheme to make ALL resolutions at the 2006 State Convention non-binding. It was said that this was done to prevent any chance of an open discussion of LGBT equality on the floor of the South Carolina State Democratic Convention while Vince Sheheen was running for State Senate…because he did not want to have to admit in front of thousands of Democrats that he opposed LGBT equality. He still doesn’t.

It’s always the same ruse. Get what you can out of LGBT people and then find a way to make them disappear faster than the unanimously supported 2002 LGBT-supportive resolution from the Charleston County Convention that according to the Charleston County Democratic Party Chairman “Just disappeared somewhere between Charleston and Columbia” and couldn’t be presented to the State Convention. True story…it just disappeared! I guess a copy of the minutes of the county convention where it had been approved or perhaps just a fax machine would have required too much thought and effort for those in control of the convention agenda to bother.

My point here is that ALL Democrats need to have a clear picture of just who is running the Democratic Party in SC and how they are abusing LGBT Democrats in the process. News Flash! They are doing it in the exact same way that they once stole the time, talent and treasure of organized labor and african americans and then tossed them to the curb when the election was over. No doubt the Latino strategy is already in the works.

With this party’s current structure and its homophobic history, it is no great leap to surmise that Ed Greenleaf never had a snowball’s chance of getting the kind of State Democratic Party support that the party rushed to give Brad Hutto as soon as they found out that his opponent had been convicted of a crime. Why wasn’t Ed Greenleaf entitled to the same support from the SC State Democratic Party when his opponent’s goals were discovered to be straight out of the South Carolina REPUBLICAN Party Platform?

Unfortunately the State Democratic Party will ALWAYS support a right-wing opportunist like Phil Black over a qualified LGBT candidate whose views are totally mainstream within the national party. All the party had to do to avoid the embarrassment of elevating an opportunistic right-winger in Greenleaf’s primary was to give Greenleaf the same courtesy it gave Hutto…tell the voters who the real Democrat is.

The homophobic betrayal of LGBT Democratic candidates by their own party is how we wind up with people like Phil Black winning Democratic Primaries. It’s also how we wind up with gubernatorial candidates like Vince Sheheen who will take everything he can get from the LGBT community and then stand up repeatedly, even at LGBT events, and say to the world that LGBT people are ABSOLUTELY NOT equal and are ABSOLUTELY NOT entitled to protection under our state or federal constitutions.

Sorry to have to say to Jaime Harrison, Ed Greenleaf and to everyone concerned that Ed Greenleaf’s sexuality had EVERYTHING to do with why the party did not support him. To say or think otherwise is to ignore the history of the State Party and to allow those who control the party to lay claim to a level of integrity to which they are absolutely not entitled.

Charles W. Smith
Charleston, South Carolina

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Rep. James Smith – advocate for LGBT rights

Rep. James Smith has become an amazing advocate for LGBT rights in South Carolina. Many years ago I doubted his level of commitment to LGBT equality and was very harsh in my criticism of him. I was so wrong! 

James Smith is not just an amazing advocate for equality, he’s an amazing public official in all respects. I say this because it is so important for all of us to remember who stood with LGBT South Carolinians then and who is with us now. Rep.James Smith stood with us before it was easy and he is still there.

When Chief Moore is reappointed to her previous position as Police Chief of Latta, South Carolina, it will be because Rep. James Smith and a handful of other fair-minded legislators guided by groups like SCGLPM, AFFA, the SCEC, We Are Family and the SCGL Business Guild made it safe enough in South Carolina to stand up and do what is right. It will also be because Chief Moore led by example in her own life and career and demonstrated every day the honesty and integrity that her community values.

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Recognizing the enduring civic spirit of Harold Koon

Whether you knew him from his association with St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, the Metropolitan Community Church, the Mazyck Wraggborough Neighborhood Association, the Lowcountry Gay and Lesbian Alliance or his military reserve group, everyone knew that if you wanted to get something done, Harold Koon was the guy to call…..


In this present age when we place so much emphasis on material things, we should remember that it is service given freely and happily to others that sustains us and binds us together as a community. Harold Koon understood this concept and embraced it with a vigor that is seldom seen today. His presence and example have made a huge difference in our community. Those who have been honored in past years with the award that is given in Harold Koon’s name continue in that spirit and remind us of our moral and civic obligation to serve.

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End of the line for Dupont Station?

Charlie Smith was driving down Savannah Highway last Wednesday when he looked out the side window and gasped at what he saw. A wrecking crew was ripping down Dupont Station, a West Ashley landmark that served as a fresh-produce hub for much of the 20th century.

Smith, a real estate broker who once owned property nearby, called Charleston County to question why it permitted the demolition work, particularly given the site’s history……………..

“I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t try to do something.”

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