COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The Confederate flag finally appears to be coming down from atop the Statehouse dome -- but it's not going very far.
After a final few hours of dealmaking and voting, the South Carolina Legislature approved a compromise plan that would move the banner to a Confederate monument a stone's throw from the Statehouse steps.
Under the bill passed Thursday, the flag will come down July 1.
Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges said he would sign the measure and promised a proper ceremony to mark the lowering and the removal of the flag from the House and Senate chambers, where it also hangs.
''I hope this represents the last battle of the Civil War,'' said Democratic state Sen. Dick Elliott.
But after months of debate, marches and demonstrations that attracted thousands of flag supporters and opponents to the Statehouse, the resolution may not quell the rancor over the divisive issue.
The compromise calls for a square version of the rectangular flag that now flies to be hoisted up a 30-foot flagpole at a monument to Confederate war dead on the Statehouse grounds.
Flag opponents say the banner will be even more prominent at its new location, where it will be surrounded by lights and located at one of Columbia's busiest intersections.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has said it will continue its 5-month-old tourism boycott of the state.
''The governor and the Legislature have taken a political position. The NAACP has a principled position,'' said Kweisi Mfume, president of the civil rights group. ''To take it from the top of the dome where you had to strain to see it, and move it to a place where anyone coming down the main street will see it is an insult.''
South Carolina is the only state that still flies the flag above its Statehouse. It was raised in 1962 to commemorate the Civil War centennial, though critics say it was a gesture of defiance toward the civil rights movement.
Supporters say the flag honors the state's Confederate history; opponents see it as a symbol of racism and slavery.
Flag supporters said they felt betrayed by Republicans in the House, who in previous years had rebuffed all attempts to bring the flag down, even when GOP Gov. David Beasley proposed it before Hodges defeated him two years ago.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.