In a truly conservative world in which personal freedom was sacrosanct, Lora Talbot and Benji Herndon would have received a marriage license this past Valentine’s Day at the courthouse in Conway.
In a truly conservative world in which unnecessary government intrusion into our private lives would be resisted as though it were a direct threat to the republic itself, they would not have walked into those courthouse doors knowing they would be denied.
In a truly conservative world in which consenting adults are allowed – and expected – to set the course for their own lives, Talbot and Herndon would be picking out china and wedding invitation designs by now.
But we don’t live in that world. We live in a red state in the heart of a region that claims with religious fervor that any limits to individual freedom should be resisted on all fronts.
That’s the biggest, most glaring conceit of our region. We don’t believe in individual rights, or we only believe in them in the way Thomas Jefferson believed that all men were created equal.
Individual rights, according to our hypocrisy, should only be extended to those of whom we approve, to those who follow our pre-set dictates about religion and God and family.
They should not benefit couples such as Talbot, a woman, and Herndon, a transgender male.
We even enshrined that hypocrisy by passing multiple laws and amending the state’s constitution.
And we make impassioned arguments to deny that we are hypocrites.
We talk about God and Leviticus 18:22.
We invoke the term tradition, as though what long was must always be.
We selectively talk about the social order and distort science to make our case.
We falsely claim that treating gays and lesbians equally means we would be giving them special rights.
We say they are trying to impose their beliefs upon us when we know precisely the opposite is occurring.
We say we are tired of them flaunting their lifestyles while praising husbands and wives who openly and publicly love on each other.
And the hypocrisy even extends to many of those in this region who witnessed first hand the harm that can be inflicted by an oppressor with the backing of government and popular opinion.
It’s as though we learned nothing from that era.
In a world in which the supposed conservative principle of individual freedom was upheld, on Valentine’s Day Lora Talbot and Benji Herndon would have celebrated their commitment to each other with a piece of paper that would have officially sanctioned it.
But we don’t live in that conservative world.
We live in Horry County, South Carolina.