S.D. lawmakers need to focus on real issues, not discriminatory bills

Issues that matter most to South Dakotans are being ignored as some South Dakota legislators continue to attack the LGBTQ and Two Spirit community and erode their rights with bills that stoke fear and hatred amid discriminatory rhetoric.  

Bills like House Bill 1057, which will be heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Monday, House Bill 1215 and Senate Bill 109 detract from the state’s real problems.

  • House Bill 1057 would criminalize life-saving medical treatment for transgender youth. No other state has passed a law like HB 1057. It is unconstitutional to single out one group of people and categorically ban all care, no matter how medically necessary.
  • House Bill 1215 would prohibit the state from endorsing or enforcing certain policies regarding same-sex marriage. Marriage equality is the law of the land in South Dakota and the entire nation. South Dakota lawmakers cannot defy the U.S. Supreme Court based on their extreme personal views.
  • Senate Bill 109 would allow health care providers, medical institutions and health insurance providers to refuse care to a patient on religious, moral, ethical or philosophical grounds. This means a public school counselor could refuse care to a young LGBTQ person in distress or an EMT could refuse care to a gay man in an emergency situation.

With serious and complex issues like the lack of adequate education funding for teacher salary increases to access to drug addiction treatment in the rural areas of our state, it’s disturbing that legislators have spent so much time attacking vulnerable transgender youth and the LGBTQ and Two Spirit community as a whole. Bill after bill seems fixated on the incorrect notion that some South Dakotans not entitled to the same dignity and respect as others. The ACLU of South Dakota’s commitment to ensuring that LGBTQ and Two Spirit South Dakotans can live openly without discrimination remains strong. We urge South Dakota lawmakers to focus on the issues that really matter.

South Dakotans agree.

On behalf of the Human Rights Campaign, Change Research polled 720 likely voters in South Dakota between Jan 28-30 and found that 69 percent say that, “legislators are too focused on divisive issues and should be focusing on pressing issues that will actually have an impact on South Dakotans, like growing the economy.” Additionally, nearly two-shirts of voters say, “we need to stop stigmatizing transgender people as a society.”

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