It’s No Exaggeration: Sweeping South Dakota Bill Aims to Eliminate LGBTQ Rights February 1, 2020

It’s No Exaggeration: Sweeping South Dakota Bill Aims to Eliminate LGBTQ Rights

This week, South Dakota’s legislature introduced HB 1215 — the most comprehensive, retrogressive anti-LGBTQ bill in recent memory.

However bad you think it is, it’s so much worse.

Whatever LGBTQ rights you think they might be trying to eliminate, you’re probably right.

The bill covers nearly every aspect of LGBTQ life, from the obvious — marriage equality and protection from discrimination — to the surprisingly specific: The law addresses schools and libraries hosting Drag Queen Story Hour events. It even contains a rather nebulous catch-all clause that says the state may not approve policies that “condone or affirm” LGBTQ communities.

Here’s what they’re proposing:

The state may not enforce, endorse, or favor policies that:

(1) Permit any form of marriage that does not involve a man and a woman;

(2) Appropriate benefits to persons who enter a marriage other than a marriage involving a man and a woman;

(3) Permit counties to issue marriage licenses to persons other than for a marriage involving a man and a woman;

(4) Treat sexual orientation as a suspect class or as a basis of prohibited discrimination;

(5) Recognize a person’s belief that that person was born a gender that does not accord with the biological sex of the person as determined by that person’s anatomy at birth;

(6) Appropriate tax dollars to pay for sex change operations;

(7) Ban conversion therapy. Under this subdivision, conversion therapy, means a therapeutic practice in which a licensed medical professional, acting under authorized consent, assists a client in the goal or realigning the client’s sexual preference to prefer members of the opposite sex who have corresponding reproductive anatomy;

(8) Permit public libraries or public schools in the state to partner with nonsecular organizations to promote, host, sponsor, favor, or endorse drag queen storytime;

(9) Mandate pronoun changes;

(10) Condone or affirm homosexual, transgender, zoophilia, objectophilia, polygamy, or sexual orientation doctrines; and

(11) Permit a person to change the sex on a birth certificate to a sex that does not accord with that person’s anatomy at birth.

In other words, the bill prohibits policies that make any part of LGBTQ people’s lives safer or more just. It sanctions bigotry by refusing to recognize that anti-LGBTQ discrimination should be against the law, then goes on to prohibit nearly every form of legislation that might decrease that discrimination in any way.

It’s not just the substance of the bill that makes it aggressively anti-LGBTQ either. It’s the vicious language used. Same-sex couples and trans people seeking gender-affirming surgery aren’t receiving benefits; they’re “appropriating” them. LGBTQ-friendly beliefs are conflated with “zoophilia, objectophilia, and polygamy” (which is, for non-monogamous people, an entirely separate can of worms).

It’s every trick in the anti-gay playbook all wrapped up in one handy bill.

The bill was sponsored by Republican legislator Tony Randolph, who received a 95% approval rating from right-leaning group South Dakota Citizens for Liberty, a 100% rating from the Family Heritage Alliance, and an Award for Conservative Achievement from the American Conservative Union Foundation.

On top of it all, HB 1215 isn’t the only anti-LGBTQ legislation to be introduced in the South Dakota legislature. HB 1057 targets doctors who specialize in care for young trans people by essentially outlawing trans health care for minors, including potentially life-saving puberty blockers and hormone treatments.

But take heart! The ACLU of South Dakota is striking back. They’ve already arranged a petition against HB1057, and action on HB1215 is sure to be forthcoming. ACLU policy director Libby Skarin says the law is simply too deeply bigoted to survive:

Marriage equality is the law of the land in South Dakota and the entire nation, no matter what half-baked legal theories anti-LGBTQ lawmakers try to put forward. This bill is further proof that some South Dakota legislators remain committed to discriminating against LGBTQ people and their families. South Dakota lawmakers cannot defy the U.S. Supreme Court based on their extreme personal views.

As discouraging as it is to see such hateful ideas reach the legislature, the fight carries on.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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