Q Notes reports that South Carolina governor Mark Sanford was not happy when the state tourism board started reaching out to to gay travelers:
When South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford learned that his state was being advertised as a gay tourism destination, he ordered a Cabinet-level department head "to do the right thing personnel-wise or process-wise to ensure this does not happen again," Sanford's spokesman Joel Sawyer told Q-Notes.
Sanford was reacting to U.S. media reports that a subway poster mounted in London, England, during Gay Pride week was announcing, "South Carolina is so gay."
A state employee who approved the ads was called to a meeting with management and resigned, according to Marion Edmonds, spokesman for the state's Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (PRT).
If the employee broke any rule in the conduct of her job, it was apparently an unwritten one.
"I'm not sure if there were rules to follow," said Edmonds.
In the Governor's office, Sawyer said that the state will not promote itself as a tourist destination through campaigns "aimed at a specific group of people."
Sawyer said the "so gay" ad should have been "run up the flagpole," but did not know whether any standard procedures were violated at the time it was approved.
"It defies common sense that someone would sign off on an advertising campaign that controversial," Sawyer said.
An industry expert says the move will likely cost South Carolina tourism dollars.
But one gay and lesbian advocate in the state agrees that the campaign was misguided:
Such attitudes remain prevalent in the state, said Warren Redman-Gress, executive director of the South Carolina Alliance for Full Acceptance, a gay and lesbian advocacy group. He praised the motives behind the campaign but criticized it as poorly thought out.
"I wish the folks at the tourism board had done a little more of their homework," Redman-Gress said. "I get calls regularly, people want to know before I come and spend my hard-earned money, my souvenir dollars in South Carolina, is it a place where it is OK for me to be gay?
"The answer is yes and no," he said. "You live on the edge with the simple fact that you can come to South Carolina, spend your money getting here, and someone can come in and say, 'I'm sorry; you can't stay here because you're gay.'"
Mark Sanford made news last weekend for his inability to name any major economic policy on which McCain disagreed with Bush. He also recently said that removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds is not a priority.
UPDATE: South Carolina's Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (PRT) refused to pay its bill for the British ad campaign. So the South Carolina Pride Movement is raising the $5,000 necessary to pay the debt and save the state from more embarrassment.