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01:25 - Source: CNN

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Bill to remove Confederate flag from South Carolina statehouse grounds clears hurdle

Roll call vote to allow debate on the bill passes with 103 members voting in favor

CNN  — 

The effort to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s statehouse cleared a key hurdle with an overwhelming show of support in the state legislature.

A roll call vote to allow debate on the bill passed with 103 members voting in favor. Ten voted against and 10 others did not vote. The state Senate advanced the legislation with a voice vote that Sen. Tom Davis (R) tells CNN passed with 42 voting in support and three against.

“AC360” reached out to every member of South Carolina’s House and Senate to find out where they stand. These are some of the statements we received.

Sen. Karl B. Allen (D) says he is voting to remove the flag and invoked the words of his slain colleague, Sen. Clementa Pinckney, who was killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting.

“I echo his voice, his voice echoes in my mind that we should do the right thing with regards to the divisiveness, the hatred, the circumstances that the Confederate flag brings on South Carolina currently.

“With that being said, the right thing is to remove the flag from the grounds of the state House where the majority of the citizens have spoken and let’s let South Carolina go forward to be great.”

Rep. James Mikell Burns (R) explained why he is voting to keep the flag where it is and he says lawmakers should work to find a compromise.

“I am sympathetic to the 61% of South Carolinians who do not want it taken down. Obviously those of us who have ancestors who fought in [the Civil] War think it’s appropriate to honor them on state property.”

Two other lawmakers with ancestors who fought in the Civil War expressed their support for removing the flag. Rep. Grady A. Brown (D) recounted the moment 150 years ago Tuesday when his great-grandfather signed an oath to support the Union after Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender.

“I tell you that I have as much heritage as anyone in the General Assembly or the state, but I see the need to put that in perspective. Let’s move forward and take the flag down and put it in a place of honor. So I will vote to take it down.”

Rep. Donna C. Hicks (R) stood with Gov. Nikki Haley to support the removal of the flag.

“I understand the heritage and history, my family fought in the Civil War, but it has become a symbol of hatred and white supremacy and I can’t stand for that.

“It has no place any longer on state grounds. It needs to be put into a museum. State grounds belong to all people.”

Sen. Kevin L. Bryant (R) says he plans to vote to remove the flag, but raised concerns that this issue is being debated so soon after the tragedy.

“I was really, really moved by the response of the victims when the family members, I saw on CNN, at the hearing, actually offered forgiveness and courted that man to Christ. That’s just moving. It’s a testament to Sen. Pinkney.”

Sen. Paul Campbell (R) wants the flag removed from the Capitol grounds, but explains why he wants it kept in a place of honor.

“Unfortunately, the flag which represents the 18,000 or so South Carolina soldiers who died in the War Between the States has been hijacked by evil people.

“The flag is heritage and history for so many South Carolinians. This is truly a shame but such as it is, the flag now needs to be removed.”

Sen. Ronnie A. Sabb (D) is pleased to see bipartisan support and optimistic that removing the flag could help South Carolina come together.

“You can’t bring [the shooting victims] back, but good can come from the tragedy.”

Rep. Terry Alexander (D) says removing the Confederate flag is overdue.

“The tragedy brought everything to light, it brought the flag to light and because of that I think our state business people, our state leaders do not want the burden of defending that flag anymore.”