Today is a very happy day!
As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
The 2015 South Dakota Legislative session has ended.
The four bills that were attacks on LGBT were all successfully defeated this legislative session. These bills were ugly, they can even be described as mean. But they were defeated. Even though Rep. Bolin and Sen. Greenfield and their allies were determined to get HB 1195 passed, they failed. For a detailed report on the political maneuvering see the EqSD Blog post: Death of Transgender Bills.
Equality South Dakota wants to thank everyone who contacted their legislators. Your support was crucial.
Equality South Dakota greatly acknowledges the ACLU of South Dakota for their guidance and assistance in the defeat of these bills.
It was unfortunate that these bills made it to floor votes, but since they did, we finally have a voting record of each legislator on a transgender bill. For the past seven years, bills were always killed in committee so we only knew the position of that committee member. This year the transgender bills had floor votes whereby each legislator had to take a position on the bills.
EqSD has compiled these votes and will be using this information in the future. We have posted them online for you here:
There was a nice bi-partisan turnout at Equality South Dakota’s legislative reception held at View 34 in Pierre on the evening of January 29, 2015. Sixteen legislators – nine Democrats and seven Republicans attended. Also in attendance were some family members, several lobbyists and legislative staff people. The legislators visited with members of the LGBT and allied communities, and met Nancy and Jen Rosenbrahn, the lead couple in the lawsuit that recently overturned South Dakota’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
"The energy from all was contagious," stated Rosenbrahn. "Meeting the legislators was a great experience in practicing what we learned about talking to our [representatives]."
The evening reception completed a great day for equality in South Dakota. Twenty-seven members of the LGBT and allied communities traveled in by two vans – one from Sioux Falls, the other from Rapid City – for the legislative day. Attendees came from Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Brookings, Yankton, Chamberlain, Mitchell, Salem, Wessington Springs and Custer. Groups represented were Equality South Dakota, Black Hills Center for Equality, Sioux Falls Center for Equality, Sioux Falls PFLAG, Yankton PFLAG, and Common Ground Diversity Center (Sioux Falls).
During the afternoon, attendees heard presentations on:
Legislation was also a topic of discussion:
Angela Jimenez Photography from Minneapolis interviewed legislators and meeting attendees to document the day’s events. The event also picked up some good press coverage from KEVN-TV, and KOTA radio, and the blog Madville Times.
The LGBT legislative day was funded by a grant Equality South Dakota received from the PFund Foundation based in Minneapolis. Additional in-kind support was provided by GeoFunTrek Tours and Complete Weddings and Events.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, in partnership with the Equality Federation, released its first national report assessing the status of state legislation affecting LGBT equality across America, including in South Dakota.
South Dakota is one of 32 states in the country that lacks explicit state-level workplace protections for all LGBT employees. South Dakota lacks basic statewide non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. Work continues on efforts to pass those protections at the municipal level, to build statewide support for LGBT equality, and to stop legislation that would allow discrimination against LGBT people based on religious beliefs.
"The SEI for South Dakota shows LGBT do not have protections against discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodations," said Lawrence Novotny, Chair of Equality South Dakota. "Even though our state just won marriage equality, a person in South Dakota can still be legally fired for being married to a same-sex person. There is still a lot of work to do in South Dakota both on the legislative level and the local level to address inequalities in discrimination against LGBT."
The full report, including detailed scorecards for every state, is available online at www.hrc.org/sei. On January 26, the Equality Federation (EqSD is a member) has launched a week-long educational campaign to bring attention to state disparities in LGBT protections.