The Palmetto Scoop has learned that the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism — a state agency overseen by the Gov. Mark Sanford’s office — is spending an undisclosed amount of its nearly $14 million advertising budget to take part in the “So Gay” campaign, an effort launched in London, England, by the gay marketing agency “Out Now” to lure homosexual tourists to South Carolina and five U.S. cities.

Out Now is dubbing it “the gayest ever mainstream media advertising campaign” in London.

“South Carolinians will be irate when they learn their hard earned tax dollars are being spent to advertise our state as ’so gay,’” Sen. David Thomas (R-Greenville) told The Palmetto Scoop.  “South Carolina is a wonderful, family friendly destination not a Southern version of San Francisco. This campaign goes against our core values.”

Thomas said he would be calling for a comprehensive audit of PRT, an agency in the governor’s cabinet.

State Rep. Greg Delleney (R-York), echoed Thomas’ concerns, citing questions over “whether or not the governor or anyone in charge at PRT authorized this expenditure.”

“It’s simply unbelievable that PRT would be using our tax money to promote the homosexual lifestyle,” said Delleney.

Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer could not be reached for comment.

But Kirsty Dillury, a spokesperson for South Carolina Tourism, called the “So Gay” campaign an important one.

“South Carolina has a lot to offer gay travelers, and we think that people may be surprised to see our destination reaching out to the gay market,” Dillury said in aJune 27 press release. “We are delighted to be involved with the ‘So Gay’ campaign in particular as it sends a powerful positive message to everyone that there is nothing wrong at all with a destination being described as ’so gay.’”

Dillury continued, “For our gay visitors it is actually quite wonderful for them to discover just how much South Carolina has to offer — from stunning plantation homes to miles of wide sandy beaches.” […]

Read the Palmetto Scoop article

See SC Gay Poster

UPDATE (07.11.08):
‘S.C. is so gay’? State says no way
Officials pull overseas ad campaign to lure homosexual tourists
South Carolina is so gay poster
South Carolina’s top tourism agency has canceled an overseas advertising campaign targeting gay tourists.
The campaign, tied to gay pride week celebrations in London, included ads that proclaimed “South Carolina is so gay.” A handful of other U.S. destinations joined the campaign, including Atlanta, Boston and New Orleans.  Read the State Article