MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Leaders in one of South Carolina’s most popular beach resort city amended their human rights ordinance on Tuesday evening, including far-reaching LGBT-inclusive protections on everything from public accommodations to education.
The new protections, passed without objection by the six-member council, include the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in the human rights ordinance, which prohibits discrimination in “housing, employment, City services and programs, law enforcement, education and public accommodations.”
SC Equality, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, praised the amended protections in a release Wednesday and said their group had been in conversations about the change since last year. The group said it had received multiple reports of anti-LGBT discrimination in the city and reached out to the Myrtle Beach Human Rights Commission to advocate for changes.
“As one of South Carolina’s major tourist destination and a town which draws both South Carolina natives and out-of-state retirees, the protections offered in Myrtle Beach by this ordinance will protect a large number of gay and transgender people who live in and visit our Palmetto State,” SC Equality Executive Director Ryan Wilson said in the release. “Now my husband and I, as well as same-sex couples like us, have a new reason to chose Myrtle Beach for our next vacation. We commend the Myrtle Beach City Council for their leadership and thank the Human Rights Commission for working with us on this resolution.”
SC Equality reports that Myrtle Beach’s updated ordinance becomes the most comprehensive in the state. Several other towns, cities and counties have passed LGBT-inclusive protections, but Myrtle Beach’s includes areas not in other ordinances, specifically city services, law enforcement and education.
In 1991, state capital Columbia became the first city in the state to protect gay employees. Since then, a mix of LGBT-inclusive protections in municipal employment, housing or public accommodations have been passed in Columbia, Charleston, North Charleston, Folly Beach, Richland County, Charleston County.
There are no statewide anti-LGBT discrimination protections in South Carolina.