Curbing the Left’s Sexual Agenda in South Dakota

homosexual_wedding_cake_religious_freedomThe Left has a radical agenda to completely up-end and shred sexual normality, and while we like to think we’re somewhat insulated in South Dakota from the liberal rot overtaking the rest of the world, the Left has been just as eager to undermine this corner of the world as the rest.  For the past few years now, they have been working on legitimizing sexual anarchy through transgenderism and allowing it to creep into our schools.  Transgenderism comes out of boys and girls who, for whatever reason, are confused about which sex they are, and instead of pointing to the genetic and physical evidence like a responsible adult would do, radical Leftists encourage this confusion to the max and insist that the rest of the world conform to a person’s delusion rather than helping the confused person conform to reality.

Last  Wednesday, HB 1111 was heard in the House Education Committee.  The bill was presented by sponsor Rep. Roger Hunt. Hunt said his bill cam out of the summer study on the SDHSAA transgender policy.

To provide some background, a couple of years ago, the South Dakota High School Athletics Association (SDHSAA) implemented a policy which accommodated the transgender agenda. Some in the legislature attempted to reverse this last year, but our “Republican” supermajority legislature could not find the moral gravitas among the majority of its members to enforce normality in South Dakota schools. So the issue has continued to hover over the state like a dark cloud.

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Hunt said the SDHSAA should be subject to Rule 1-26 in the South Dakota Code, which is an the administrative procedure requirement in the code. Hunt’s bill was to clarify that the SDHSAA is subject to this requirement where any major social policy is set.

Cindy Flakoll of Concerned Women For America Legislative Action Committee also spoke in favor of the bill.

Lindsey Riter-Rapp of the South Dakota High School Activities Association spoke in opposition to the bill, stating that a school board can delegate its rule making authority to an activities association.  She said she did not believe the SDHSAA is not a state agency and thus not subject to this requirement. Riter-Rapp also said some of the decisions the association has to make must be made quickly, and this requirement would interfere with that. She also said the language about “social policy” is ambiguous and uncertain as to who would determine what constitutes a “major” social policy. Riter-Rapp said she believed based on past experience that if a policy rises to the level where the legislature feels the need to intervene, it can.

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John Krogstrand, also of the South Dakota High School Activities Association, testified that his concerns were over “what’s best for kids.”  He said under the bill, the association could spend more time worrying about what constituted a major social policy than in meeting the needs of an individual student. Krogstrand said the policies the association comes up with are driven by member schools.

Robert Monson, School Administrators of South Dakota, testified in opposition to the bill, stating member schools have input into policies formulated by the association and can voice their disagreement with any policies.

Hunt responded to some of the objections, stating that with regard to questions about what constitutes a “major” social policy is something that reasonable people should be able to identify without a problem. Hunt said that bodies similar to the SDHSAA are bound by Rule 1-26, and the health and welfare policies being set by the association, which affect school children in South Dakota, should also be subject.

HB 1111 was killed on an 8-5 vote, with several “Republicans” from our “Republican” supermajority legislature voting against the bill:

Campbell Nay Deutsch Yea Gibson Yea
Hawks Yea Holmes Yea Hunt Excused
Kaiser Excused Klumb Nay May Nay
McCleerey Yea Tulson Nay Wollmann Yea
Zikmund Nay Johns Yea Sly Yea

Hunt had another bill on this subject, HB 1112, which was heard by the House State Affairs Committee that same day. HB 1112 dealt more directly with the transgender policy of the SDHSAA, and was entitled:

establish certain procedures regarding a transgender policy for the purposes of participation in high school activities and to declare void any present transgender policy of the South Dakota High School Activities Association.

The heart of the bill states:

The board of directors of the South Dakota High School Activities Association may not adopt any transgender policy without the consent of the Legislature. Any transgender policy adopted by the board of directors prior to this Act is hereby declared void.

Rep. Hunt testified about his bill,  stating the existing policy doesn’t involve a physician in the determination. Hunt said so much in the existing policy depends on feelings, which are hard to quantify. Hunt’s bill would void the existing policy and require the consent of the legislature before the adoption of a new policy.

Dale Bartscher of the Family Heritage Alliance  also spoke  in favor of the bill, stating there had been a great deal of objection to the existing policy from parents and others across the state. Bartscher said it was reasonable to do away with the existing policy and formulate a better one. Bartscher also pointed out that one of the primary reasons we have both male and female sports teams is the significant differences in the bodies of the athletes involved.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Matt Sharp testified by phone, stating that separate teams by sex are needed to ensure fairness and safety on the field, as well as bodily privacy of the players.  Sharp said it is a medical fact that there are significant differences between males and females,  including the fact that males are usually taller and  bigger in body, causing a safety issue if females compete against males on the field. Students also have a right to privacy while showering and changing clothes, and allowing males in the female privacy areas and vice versa denies this.

Linda Schauer of Concerned Women For America Legislative Action Committee also testified for the bill, stating that the Left has an agenda to pretend that the differences between men and women don’t exist, and our children are getting caught up in that agenda.  She also stated that children who are confused about their sex deserve the opportunity to receive the counseling they need.

Travis Benson of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls also spoke in favor of the bill.

Testifying in opposition was Bob Riter of the South Dakota High School Activities Association. Riter stated this bill would take away from local schools the ability to set policy in this area.

Also testifying in opposition was Terry Nebelsick of Huron who said transgender children need an advocate. Nebelsick said transgender children need to be protected from discrimination.

Robert Monson of the School Administrators of South Dakota said this bill will not protect schools from lawsuits over this issue.

Elizabeth Skarin of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said this bill would eliminate the existing transgender policy and deprive transgender students of the opportunity to participate in scholastic sports.

Terri Bruce of Hermosa spoke against the bill, stating she is transgender. She said transgender people don’t pretend to be another sex to obtain access to privacy areas for the opposite sex.  She said the proposed legislation was damaging and an unnecessary government intervention.

During committee discussion, Rep. Brian Gosch brought out some important points, that we don’t allow children to do things like enter into contracts,  engage in sex,  buy tobacco, drink alcohol, get married, and so on. Why should we allow them  to decide that the biological and scientific fact of their sex is not in fact reality, and that they need to be protected from rash decisions in this manner also.

The bill passed 10-3:

Bartling Nay Bolin Yea Haggar (Don) Yea
Hawley Nay Langer Yea Mickelson Yea
Munsterman Yea Solum Yea Stevens Yea
Verchio Yea Wink Nay Westra Yea
Gosch Yea

Interestingly, House Speaker Dean Wink was the only “Republican” to join Democrats in voting in favor of the transgender agenda in South Dakota, and against protecting South Dakota girls from having boys in their locker rooms and rest rooms. What does this say about “Republican” leadership in the South Dakota House?

Before HB 1112 was discussed, still another bill protecting religious liberty against the radical Leftist sexual agenda was brought by prime sponsor Rep. Scott Craig. HB 1107 is designed to ensure government nondiscrimination in matters of religious beliefs and moral convictions. This is especially important in light of the events of recent years where we have seen government leveraged to punish private businesses for exercising their right of conscience and their religious liberty, and have even seen in the past year a Kentucky county clerk jailed for obeying the U.S. Constitution and the Kentucky Constitution because her loyalty to these constitutions did not comport with the opinions of radical Leftists.

As Craig testified in support of his bill, he stated that ironically, in a nation founded on religious freedom by people escaping religious persecution, we are seeing popular culture turn against religious freedom. Craig pointed out that it isn’t just a culture of negativity toward religious freedom anymore; we are seeing government persecute people for exercising their religious liberty.

Dale Bartscher of the Family Heritage Alliance spoke in favor of the bill, pointing out that Article 6 Section 3 of the South Dakota Constitution guarantees religious liberty:

The right to worship God according to the dictates of conscience shall never be infringed. No person shall be denied any civil or political right, privilege or position on account of his religious opinions; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse licentiousness, the invasion of the rights of others, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of the state.

Additionally, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees religious liberty:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

However, Bartscher pointed out that although the federal government and every state constitution guarantees religious liberty, many states have in recent years begun to persecute Christians for exercising their religious liberty when that liberty compels them to refuse to participate in politically correct immoral acts.

Also testifying in support of the bill by phone was Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Matt Sharp. Sharp pointed out that people of faith make an incredible contribution to the welfare  of society, and many people depend on these individuals and organizations.  It is in the interest of society to protect religious liberty.  Sharp pointed out that while this legislation would protect individuals, organizations and businesses,  it could not be used to deny medical services to someone. It would also not protect government employees in the course of their duties. Sharp gave examples of people and groups that have been persecuted by government within the United States for exercising their religious liberty to recognize that certain behaviors are immoral and to refuse to facilitate those behaviors.

Jeromy Pankratz of the South Dakota Attorney General’s office as well as Linda Schauer of Concerned Women For America Legislative Action Committee, and Travis Benson of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls also testified in favor of the bill.

Denny Kaemingk of the state Department of Corrections testified against the bill, stating that in prison environments, when considering placement  of a transgender person in a male/female facility,  “An inmate’s  genitalia is only one factor to make this determination” and that a transgender person “may be placed in a facility inconsistent with the sex determined at birth.”  Kaemingk said corrections administrators must have the ability to discipline a staff member who  might resist such placement or “treat the inmate inappropriately” because of their placement,  and he believed this bill  might interfere with that.

Elizabeth Skarin of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stated religious freedom does not give us the right to harm  others,  and this bill would harm others. She said the bill would open the door to taxpayer funded discrimination against homosexuals,  transgenders,  and unmarried couples.

In rebuttal, Sharp stated that the bill addresses all the concerns of the opposition and would not allow a government employee in the execution of their duty to deny government-approved services on the excuse of religious liberty.

An amendment was offered and passed to make the language of this bill match the language of that being implemented in other states.

During committee discussion, Rep. Julie Bartling stated she didn’t believe the legislation was necessary since our liberties are already protected by the constitution. She stated she didn’t  believe the bill was constitutional.

Rep.  Dean Wink stated he agreed  in general with bill, but had questions about the things brought up by Kaemingk and also agreed with Bartling’s concerns about the constitutionality.

HB 1107 passed 10-3:

Bartling Nay Bolin Yea Haggar (Don) Yea
Hawley Nay Langer Yea Mickelson Yea
Munsterman Yea Solum Yea Stevens Yea
Verchio Yea Wink Nay Westra Yea
Gosch Yea

Again, interestingly, House Speaker Dean Wink was the only “Republican” to join Democrats in voting against religious liberty and for the radial Leftist agenda in South Dakota. Again, what does that say about “Republican” leadership in the South Dakota House?

The family is the most fundamental and important building block of any society.  When sexual normality and reality itself are treated with hostility, as well as the religious liberty to acknowledge scientific facts and morality, the stability of society itself is threatened, as is the welfare of everyone in that society.


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Bob Ellis has been the owner of media company Dakota Voice, LLC since 2005. He is a 10-year U.S. Air Force veteran, a political reporter and commentator for the past decade, and has been involved in numerous election and public policy campaigns for over 20 years. He was a founding member and board member of the Tea Party groups Citizens for Liberty and the South Dakota Tea Party Alliance. He lives in Rapid City, South Dakota with his wife and two children.
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