John M. Becker

South Dakota Kills 'Right to Discriminate' Bill

Filed By John M. Becker | February 19, 2014 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: anti-discrimination law, Christianists, GOP, privilege, religious exemption, Republican Party, South Dakota, special rights, theocracy

south-dakota-flag.gifAnother one bites the dust: lawmakers in South Dakota deep-sixed a GOP-sponsored bill that would have granted businesses the right to refuse service on the basis of sexual orientation and blocked lawsuits against people for "expressing their religious beliefs on the subject of sexual orientation," provided they didn't incite violence.

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports:

After more than an hour of at times pointed testimony, the Senate Judiciary committee voted 5-2 to kill SB128, which Sen. Mark Kirkeby, R-Rapid City, called "a mean, nasty, hateful, vindictive bill."

...[A] range of opponents said the proposed law was both offensive and unnecessary.

Tom Barnett, executive director of the South Dakota State Bar, said the Oregon and Colorado cases involved laws in those states that make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation illegal. South Dakota has no such law.

"This legislation ... does nothing," Barnett said.

Other opponents used sharp language to describe the bill, comparing it to anti-gay laws in Russia and Uganda, to controversial pastor Fred Phelps, and calling it "oppressive" and "discrimination." One said it would give South Dakota a reputation of "hatred and bigotry."

According to BuzzFeed's Tony Merevick, the committee killed the bill by deferring it to the 41st day of the legislature's 40-day session.

A related "right to discriminate" bill, South Dakota Senate Bill 67, was also withdrawn late last month.

This is the fourth state-level "right to discriminate" bill that has been dropped in recent days. The others were in Kansas, Tennessee, and Idaho.


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