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Jay Stamper
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Jeremy M. "Jay" Stamper
Jeremy M. "Jay" Stamper

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"I Won't Back Down"

As many of you know, I recently came out in favor of marriage equality. I knew it was politically risky in a state like South Carolina, but I also knew it was the right thing to do.

Several days after my announcement, a state party official summoned me to his office. To my disbelief he tried to persuade me to drop out of the race. I said no thanks.

Apparently, certain well-connected “party elders” believe that my candidacy is a distraction that will only hurt Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen by highlighting his opposition to marriage equality and women’s reproductive rights.

Now, my campaign is meeting resistance from the last place I expected: from within the state party establishment.

I’m proud to be a Democrat. But the party is more than just a handful of well-connected insiders sitting in an office building. It’s you, it’s me, it’s millions of “ordinary” people across the country who believe in equal rights and equal opportunity for all. I’m not going to drop out. I’m not going to back down. And I need your support.

http://jaystamper.com/2013/11/01/i-wont-back-down/

As the Democrat running for Lindsey Graham’s U.S. Senate seat in conservative South Carolina, I’ve had no shortage of advice on how to deal with “the gay marriage problem.” I recently received another installment of the usual advice: avoid the topic at all costs until addressing it becomes unavoidable. Only then, when asked, should I adopt a position opposing gay marriage and supporting the state ban. After making it clear that this wasn’t going to work for me, I was told that I had only one other option: claim that marriage equality is an issue for the states and wash my hands of it. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for me either. I just don’t believe it to be the case.

I fundamentally believe marriage equality is not a minor issue to be minimized, ignored or treated as a political inconvenience. It is a civil rights issue affecting millions of people who are our neighbors, friends and family. They are Americans who are entitled to the same privileges and benefits afforded to me and my wife Marnie. Gay couples must not be denied the right to marry.

Imagine for a moment what it’s like to be gay and in high school in South Carolina. Maybe you don’t need to imagine. But try to put yourself in the place of an adolescent looking for acceptance but facing disapproval and bigotry from classmates, teachers, even family members. Now imagine that same student in civics class, studying the South Carolina Constitution and learning that even his own state’s laws sanction discrimination against him. With nowhere to turn, facing bullying and pressure to hide who they really are, is it any wonder that gay youth attempt suicide at four times the rate of their heterosexual classmates? I won’t be silent or hide behind political rhetoric on the issue of marriage equality and civil rights. Stand with me if you won’t either.

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Looking forward to 'An Evening with Phylicia Rashad' this Tuesday in Columbia, SC. http://www.eventbrite.com/org/2533019884

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Lee Bright says God told him to run for Senate. Funny, He's been strangely silent on the subject of my candidacy.

Lindsey Graham says he's a Gulf War vet b/c he was a military lawyer in SC. Guess I'm an astronaut b/c I rode Space Mountain at Disneyland.
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