COLUMBIA, S.C. – A gay pride organization said Thursday it plans to raise $5,000 to pay for an advertising campaign that proclaimed "South Carolina is so gay" after the state refused to pick up the tab.
SC Pride Movement president Ryan Wilson said his group wants to restore the state's good name after the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department refused to pay. The state was one of a half-dozen highlighted in the London-based ad campaign aimed at gay travelers.
Joel Sawyer, spokesman for Gov. Mark Sanford, said tax dollars should not be used for ads "that promote any group with a particular social or political agenda."
A state tourism employee that officials have not identified resigned this week after the outcry.
"The reason they shouldn't get paid is that a P.R.T. employee OK'd it when they shouldn't have," Sawyer said.
Wilson said the organization hopes to pay the bill before September, when thousands of gays and lesbians gather for the annual state pride rally.
"South Carolina has sent a message to the world, that a signed contract from any state agency could be nullified if someone says, 'Oops, we made a mistake in signing this contract,' " said SC Pride board member Bruce Converse.