House Bill 1107 would allow business owners to actively discriminate against LGBTQ South Dakotans, unmarried parents, and anyone else whose sexual habits contravene their religious beliefs. Is it time for South Dakotans who believe such sexual matters are nobody else’s business to discriminate against those businesses?
HB 1107 prime sponsor Rep. Rev. Scott Craig, whose faith one would think is strong enough not to need state affirmation, says he’s trying to stop “erotic freedom” from trumping “religious freedom.” Patheos blogger Michael Stone calls HB 1107 “Sharia for Jesus” and says Rep. Rev. Craig is simply giving his Christianity and his state a bad name (and that name is bigotry):
To be blunt, Craig and his fellow Republicans give Christians a bad name. Their endorsement of bigotry and intolerance in the name of supposed religious freedom is an indictment of both their character and their intellect.
The fact that Republicans would pass such shameful legislation does a disservice to the good people of South Dakota who want no part of such hatred and bigotry. The legislation will only harm the tourism industry that is so important to the state’s economy, and leave the state wide open to expensive and unwinnable lawsuits.
Bottom line: HB 1107 is a deeply flawed and mean-spirited attempt to allow conservative Christians to discriminate against those people they do not like. As always, when conservatives talk about religious freedom, they usually mean special rights and protections for Christian bigots. The proposed legislation in South Dakota is no exception [Michael Stone, “South Dakota House Authorizes Discrimination Against LGBT and Unwed Mothers,” Patheos, 2016.02.09].
The 46 members of the House who approved Sharia for Jesus did limit their license for bigotry to the private sector: two amendments have removed “state employees and the employees of any school board, county, municipality, or other entity included under the definition of state, when acting within the scope of employment” from the definition of persons who will be allowed to discriminate against naughty kanoodlers.
If these 46 Representatives and their Senate colleagues can’t be convinced that discrimination has no place in state law, perhaps decent South Dakotans should declare that they have no place in those legislators’ businesses. An eager reader has compiled a list of businesses and organizations either owned and operated by or employing legislators who are backing HB 1107:
Legislators supporting HB 1107 either own, operate, or work for the following businesses and organizations. Legislators’ votes on bills do not necessarily reflect the views of their employers.**
- Thunder Road Family Fun Parks – Sioux Falls/Aberdeen/Watertown/Fargo (Rep. Al Novstrup, president)
- Hilton Garden Inn Sioux Falls Downtown – Sioux Falls (Rep. Steve Westra, COO, Hegg Companies)
- Hilton Garden Inn Sioux Falls South – Sioux Falls (Rep. Steve Westra, COO, Hegg Companies)
- Courtyard by Marriott Sioux Falls – Sioux Falls (Rep. Steve Westra, COO, Hegg Companies)
- SpringHill Suites Sioux Falls – Sioux Falls (Rep. Steve Westra, COO, Hegg Companies)
- Elements on 8th Restaurant (soon to be Crave Restaurant) – Sioux Falls (Rep. Steve Westra, COO, Hegg Companies)
- Best Western Graham’s Motel – Murdo (Rep. Wayne Steinhauer, owner)
- Greeny’s Restaurant and Lodging – Doland*
- Beal Distributing Inc – Sioux Falls
- Farmers Insurance – Mark Willadsen – Sioux Falls
- Fast-Teks On-Site Computer Services of the Black Hills – Rapid City (Rep. Lynne DiSanto, owner)
- Fierce Models – Rapid City (Rep. Lynne DiSanto, owner)
- Deutsch Chiropractic Clinic – Watertown (Rep. Fred Deutsch, owner)
- Landmark Realty and Auction – Dell Rapids
- Heinemann Family Dentistry – Flandreau/Dell Rapids
- The Shop, Inc – Big Stone City
- Haugaard Law Office – Sioux Falls
- Roger Hunt Law Office – Brandon
- Schoenbeck Law – Watertown
- Blackburn & Stevens Prof Law – Yankton
- Mobridge Economic Development Corp – Mobridge
- Hegg Companies, Inc – Sioux Falls
- Schoenfish and Company – Parkston
- Doss & Associates – Watertown (Rep. Tim Rounds, adjuster)†
- Mickelson & Company – Sioux Falls
- Esurance – Sioux Falls (Rep. Don Haggar, assistant sales manager)
- Dakota Resources – Renner (Rep. Dick Werner, credit officer)
- Schulte TA, Inc – Gillette, WY
- Best Practices Academy – Brookings
- Conzet Consulting – Rapid City
- Latterall Consulting Group – Tea
- Herman Otten Construction – Tea
- BigHorn Canyon Community Church – Rapid City
- South Dakota Advocacy Services – Pierre
- Hurley Middle School – Hurley
- Lake Area Technical Institute – Watertown***
- Madison Central School District – Madison
- [added 2016.02.15 21:46 CST] Saunter Raven LLC (Mathew Wollmann’s aerial imagery company)
Now those last five aren’t private businesses subject to typical boycott—you can’t really not send you kids to school just because Hurley employs a paraprofessional who believes in legalizing discrimination or because a religiously insecure zealot fixes Madison Central’s computers. But high school graduates could consider that Lake Area employs a backer of HB 1107 and choose to study Energy Operations elsewhere.
My daughter likes mini-golf, and I hate to deny her some cheap family fun for political reasons. But we save that treat for when we’re traveling, and other travelers considering a swing through South Dakota may look at Thunder Road owner Al Novstrup’s vote for Jesus-Sharia and decide to take their tourism dollars elsewhere. And we all can plan our trips to avoid having to stop in Clark for lunch and bothering Brock and Lana Greenfield with our dirty thoughts and dirty money.
After all, if Novstrup and the Greenfields don’t want sinners’ money, then all of us sinners (and we are all sinners) should happily oblige.
*Update 11:10 CST: The original version of this post included Greenfield’s Short Stop in Clark. An eager reader informs me that the Short Stop no longer exists. I have edited the above list and welcome further input from readers on changes in ownership and establishments missing from this list.
**Update 2016.02.16 18:33 CST: Apparently the legislators’ businesses and/or employers listed above are receiving some negative feedback from readers of this blog. To make clearer the meaning of this list, at the request of one listed entity, I am replacing the header “Businesses Associated with HB 1107 Yea Voters” with the longer heading you see now.
***Update 2016.02.17 09:20 CST: An official Lake Area Tech spokesperson contacts Dakota Free Press and asks to distinguish the institution’s views from the views of any individual employee. “We have always prided ourselves on being a college that treats our students like family,” says the Lake Area spokesperson. “Representative Solum is an employee of Lake Area Tech (but is on an unpaid leave of absence during session). His views are not our views and he does not consult with us on these matters.”
†Update 2016.02.19 11:32 CST: Doss and Associates of Watertown really didn’t like the public learning that they employ HB 1008 supporter Rep. Tim Rounds as an independent adjuster. They dispatched attorney Sharla B. Svennes from Sioux Falls firm Myers Billion to submit this message through the DFP contact form to detail the daylight between Tim Rounds, ill-informed anti-trans legislator, and Tim Rounds, independent adjuster:
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am contacting you on behalf of Doss & Associates to request that you clarify to your readership the fact that Representative Tim Rounds’s views and endorsements do not necessarily reflect the views of Doss & Associates. Representative Rounds is an independent adjuster employed by Doss & Associates when the South Dakota Legislature is not in session; he does not consult with Doss & Associates regarding his legislative activities, and, in fact, company policy prohibits him from using company time or resources to pledge or reject support of politically affiliated causes.
Sharla B. Svennes, Esq. [message to Dakota Free Press, 2016.02.17]
I spoke with David Doss on the phone this morning to confirm that Svennes represents his organization. I also spoke with the Doss & Associates operator, who said, “Oh, so you’re the one I’ve heard about.”