South Carolina took a step toward removing the Confederate flag from a pole on the grounds of the statehouse.
South Carolina's Senate voted 37-3 on Monday to remove it from a Confederate soldiers' memorial. The bill still requires at least a two-thirds vote from the House and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's signature. Haley said she supports the bill and will sign it.
Controversy over the use of the flag erupted after nine black church members were shot and killed at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, S.C., during a bible study.
"We now have the opportunity, the obligation to put the exclamation point on the extraordinary narrative of good and evil, of love and mercy that will take its place in the history books," said Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, according to the Associated Press.
A few days prior marked the 15th anniversary of South Carolina moving the Confederate flag from the Capitol dome to a site beside a Confederate soldiers memorial. The flag had flown on top of the dome since the 1960s.
The Senate also voted against two amendments to the bill: one that would allow the flag to be raised on the Confederate Memorial Day, and one that would let the public vote on the flag's fate, AP reported.
State Sen. Lee Bright suggested the idea of holding a public vote, and said the flag had been used improperly by people like Dylann Roof, the man charged with the Charleston church member murders.
"I'm more against taking it down in this environment than any other time just because I believe we're placing the blame of what one deranged lunatic did on the people that hold their Southern heritage high," said Bright, a Republican.
A survey revealed that at least 83 House members also agreed with Haley to remove the flag. But the surveys, conducted by the Post and Courier, the South Carolina Press Association and the Associated Press, asked only whether to lower the flag without any additional changes.
The bill may have a harder time in the House, as several leaders have not said how they intend to vote. However, Democrats and Haley said they could not condone the use of any Confederate flag.
Ideas have circulated of keeping the flag pole and raising a new flag. Republicans have suggested the American flag, the South Carolina state flag or a different flag used by Confederate troops, AP reported.