Media Contact

Janna Farley,

June 16, 2020

Even outside of the legislative session, some South Dakota lawmakers are finding a way to promote discrimination against LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit South Dakotans.

Sens. Jack Kolbeck, Lee Schoenbeck and Jim Stalzer, Reps. Fred Deutsch, Jon Hansen, Steve Haugaard and Sue Peterson and former Rep. Tom Holmes filed a brief earlier this month asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule it legal for taxpayer-funded foster care agencies to assert a religious objection to accepting families of different faiths, families that do not attend church, same-sex couples or unmarried people.

If the Supreme Court accepts Catholic Social Services’ position in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, it would not just mean LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit people could be turned away, but people who are Jewish, Muslim or Mormon could also be turned away by failing to meet an agency’s religious test. 

“When agencies accept taxpayer dollars to provide government services, they do not have a license to discriminate,” said Libby Skarin, campaigns director for the ACLU of South Dakota. “Child welfare advocates agree that the needs of children in our child welfare system must come first and that turning away qualified families will hurt the more than 400,000 kids in our nation’s foster care system. By choosing to sign on to this brief, these legislators are sending a message to LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit South Dakotans that their elected officials don’t believe they should live free from discrimination.”

That South Dakota legislators signed on to this brief is just one reason why the ACLU of South Dakota is working with a coalition of statewide organizations and individuals to launch the voteOUT campaign.

The voteOUT campaign is an effort to encourage people to reconnect with their power as registered voters and move equality forward. LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit people make up a large portion of the voting bloc in South Dakota and their perspective, concerns and opinions should be represented at the ballot box and on the legislative floor in Pierre. Tune in to the virtual campaign launch at 10 a.m. MT/11 a.m. CT on June 20 here:

About the ACLU of South Dakota

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of South Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes North Dakota and Wyoming. The team in South Dakota is supported by staff in those states.

The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people.  In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBTQ communities. The ACLU of South Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of South Dakota.