Tuesday, February 18, 2014

SB 128 Dies in Committee, but Don't Forget About It

The newest anti-gay person bill has died in committee.  The bill would have forced judges to dismiss any lawsuit against a business that openly discriminates against a person based on their sexuality and ignore any federal protections for people of the LGBT community.  The bill SB 128 failed on a 5-2 vote that sent it to the 41st legislative day.  

There were several reasons reject the bill.  One included the poor way that the bill was written, and the fact the main sponsor of the bill, Phil Jensen, does not have a simple understanding of government.  Tony Barnett, executive director of the South Dakota State Bar explains:

He said he finds two parts of the bill to be unconstitutional: one directing a judge to dismiss such lawsuits and another that declares any federal recognition of sexual orientation as a protected class would not apply in South Dakota. 
Federal law takes precedence over state law, Barnett said.
The most important reason to reject the law is that it is discriminatory and encourages people to fear those of the LGBT community.  That is the question that was asked by one Senator:

Sen. Jean Hunhoff, R-Yankton, a member of the committee, said the measure and similar ones introduced during this year's legislative session seem to be focused on trying to divide society.
"Because what? We fear them? We fear what it's going to lead to?" Hunhoff said. "I have a difficult time as a faith-based person that I'm supposed to be afraid of these people."
The answer to that question is simply yes.  To many in the right-wing of the GOP fear something that is different.  It is true of people of different sexual preferences, just as it was (and is) true of people of different skin color or religion.

The next question needs to be what should done about people that support fear based legislation like this and Ernie Otten's SB 67?  People, Democrat or Republican, need to stand up to these tactics and remind voters that legislation like this is harmful.  It is harmful to businesses, it is harmful to the image of South Dakota, and most importantly, it is harmful to human dignity.  These votes must become an issue during primaries or the general election in November.  

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