In the early 1990s, I joined a group of individuals fighting for equality in Pierre to stop a bill banning gay marriages. It passed the state house, but our organized strength helped kill the bill in the state senate. The rights of the LGBT community were safe – for awhile. The next year, a similar bill passed the legislature, but the legislature didn’t stop there.
Years later, the state legislature passed a constitutional amendment in 2006 to ban gay marriage that was upheld at the ballot box by the narrowest of margins (4%). Our rights had been taken away, but we knew history was on our side.
Today, extremist Republican legislators don’t just want to stop the tide of history – they want to turn back the clock. SB 67 would allow businesses to refuse service to the LGBT community simply because of who we are. It’s Jim Crow all over again with a new target. That’s why I was so heartened to see advocates like Sen. Angie Buhl O’Donnell start a petition to fight back.
Well, we’ve clearly touched a nerve. In just three days, more than 2000 people have taken a stand against SB 67. But I told Angie we can do better. If we get to 2500 signatures by Tuesday afternoon, we can keep up the pressure on Republican legislators returning to Pierre.
We can stop this bill, but we need a united front. I hope you’ll join Angie, me, and thousands of other South Dakotans who don’t want laws discriminating against its citizens.
Brookings County Democrats Committeeman
Chair of Equality South Dakota