COLUMBIA, S.C. — SC Pride, the annual LGBT Pride festival in South Carolina, has announced its receipt of a more than $12,000 tax grant from the Richland County government.

In June, the Richland County Council voted to sponsor SC Pride through an Accommodations Tax (A-Tax) Grant. The organization will receive a one time grant of $12,692 to offset the costs of marketing and promotions for SC Pride 2009 as a statewide tourism-related project.

In 2008, the City of Columbia Council voted unanimously to award SC Pride a similar grant of $10,000 toward marketing & promotion of Columbia as a tourist destination. That same year, Gov. Mark Sanford and other officials objected to state funds being spent on promoting South Carolina as a gay tourist destination, through the now infamous ads which read “South Carolina is SO Gay.” AMRO Worldwide which placed the ads in London’s metro stations during London Pride week is also a sponsor of SC Pride 2009.

2009 marks the 20th year of organizing LGBT Pride events in the state of South Carolina. Last year’s festival had approximately 7,000-8,000 attendees according to police estimates and over 75 vendors. The Pride festival draws attendees from South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and beyond.

SC Pride 2009 will be held Sept. 12 in Columbia’s Finlay Park. Admission to the park & parade is free.