Evoking her own personal experience with discrimination as a restaurant owner, District 2 Rep. Lana Greenfield compared Senate Bill 149 to a state law passed 2009 that prohibited smoking in workplaces, restaurants, bars, video lottery and casinos.
This is the part where I had to put the paper down and wait twelve hours before writing.
Representative Greenfield, the situation your describe is not discrimination. The displeasure you experienced at having to obey a law approved by the voters in 2010 bears no resemblance, in principle or degree, to the discrimination some parents in South Dakota will experience when SB 149 allows child-placement agencies to deny them the opportunity to adopt a child.
Representative Greenfield, discrimination is not what you experience when you have to comply with a law that you don’t like. It is not discrimination to have to drive the speed limit, apply for a building permit, or send smokers outside to reduce health risks for patrons and workers in bars and restaurants, because we impose those requirements on everyone who drives, builds, or tends bar. The indoor smoking ban (SDCL 34-46-14) does not discriminate against white, female, Christian Lana Greenfield or anyone else.
While Lana makes up discrimination where there is none, her son, Senator Brock Greenfield, denies discrimination where it plainly exists:
District 2 Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, said the bill was not discriminating against anyone based on religious beliefs but releasing private placement services from being dictated by government policy.
“So simply put, this is not about discrimination its about allowing a private sector with a religious tie to determine whether they are going to engage in providing adoption services for people,” he said [Marvel, 2017.03.04].
Paper down, breathe, distract….
Senator Greenfield, Southern lunch counters in the 1950s were private dining services. We enacted government policy to dictate that they had to serve black customers alongside white customers. Would like to release those poor, oppressed private services from that government policy?
SB 149 is not about determining whether to provide adoption services for people. SB 149 is about allowing adoption agencies to provide adoption service to some people but not to other people based on religious convictions, which will be used to justify discriminating against prospective parents who fail to meet certain religious litmus tests.
SB 149 is all about discrimination. Senator Greenfield, I suggest you may not believe that statement, or you may not care, only because you imagine you are a good enough Christian that you would never be subjected to the discrimination SB 149 intends.
Senator Greenfield, I can imagine that discrimination being applied to me. I’m a reasonably good parent (my child is literate and mostly happy, and she will be fed, dressed, and at the school door in the morning by 7:55), but if I ever decide to open my home to another child, I can easily imagine your favored adoption agencies saying, “You can’t be a good parent because you don’t go to our church….”
…to which my immediate, heartfelt response is the reason I needed to put the paper down and chill before writing this response.
Representative Lana Greenfield, you don’t know discrimination. Senator Brock Greenfield, you won’t admit discrimination.
Senate Bill 149 is discrimination that Lana and Brock want to write into state law. We should pressure the Senate and the Governor to stop that from happening.
“I consider myself a second generation Muslim American. I was born to immigrant parents, born and raised in Mid-Michigan,” Islam said.
Since then she’s made Sioux Falls her home. Yet, for Islam, and many others, practicing the Muslim faith in today’s society means being subject to the many stereotypes that come with the title.
“I’ve faced discrimination my whole life,” Islam said, “I’ve never really felt 100 percent accepted in the different environments that I’ve been in.”
This year alone, a number of Muslim communities have been targeted… with dozens of mosques vandalized across the country, some in retaliation to terrorist strikes in other parts of the world.
“It makes me really sad. I’m an American. I was born and raised here, I pledge allegiance to the flag, I sing the national anthem, I pay my taxes, I cut my lawn and make sure the city ordinances are followed. It doesn’t make sense,” Islam said [Calah Kelly, “Being a Muslim in Sioux Falls,” KELO-TV, 2016.10.21].
At a panel discussion last weekend, attorney Islam encouraged her Muslim neighbors to do something else patriotic—vote:
Everyone at the event was given the opportunity to register to vote and apply for absentee ballots.
“I think it’s important for everyone to get involved in this election,” immigration attorney Taneeza Islam said. “I think there are some really hard choices for us to make as a community and as individual” [“Sioux Falls Muslim Community Encouraged to Vote,” KSFY, 2016.10.16].
The teenagers protesting bigotry on the street in Aberdeen are mostly too young to vote. But they are doing what all Muslims, all minorities, and all South Dakotans should be doing: speaking up for liberty, justice, and opportunity for all. Muslims of voting age, bring those young people’s voice to the polls and vote for candidates who stand up for the equal rights of all Americans.
…all persons seeking to enter the United States as refugees are required to undergo multiple layers of screening by the federal government, following screening by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, before they can be admitted to the United States. The process can take up to two years [Judge Richard Posner, ruling, Exodus v. Pence No. 1:15-cv-01858, U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, 2016.10.03, p. 2].
The court dismisses Governor Pence’s claimed fears of Syrian terrorist infiltrators as baseless:
The governor of Indiana believes, though without evidence, that some of these persons were sent to Syria by ISIS to engage in terrorism and now wish to infiltrate the United States in order to commit terrorist acts here. No evidence of this belief has been presented, however; it is nightmare speculation.
…The governor’s brief asserts “the State’s compelling interest in protecting its residents from the well‐documented threat of terrorists posing as refugees to gain entry into Western countries.” But the brief provides no evidence that Syrian terrorists are posing as refugees or that Syrian refugees have ever committed acts of terrorism in the United States. Indeed, as far as can be determined from public sources, no Syrian refugees have been arrested or prosecuted for terrorist acts or attempts in the United States. And if Syrian refugees do pose a terrorist threat, implementation of the governor’s policy would simply increase the risk of terrorism in whatever states Syrian refugees were shunted to. Federal law does not allow a governor to deport to other states immigrants he deems dangerous; rather he should communicate his fears to the Office of Refugee Resettlement [Posner, 2016.10.03, pp. 3, 5].
The court says Governor Pence accepted federal money meant to help refugees “without regard to race, religion, nationality, sex, or political opinion” (that’s federal law), then attempted to refuse aid based on nationality:
He argues that his policy of excluding Syrian refugees is based not on nationality and thus is not discriminatory, but is based solely on the threat he thinks they pose to the safety of residents of Indiana. But that’s the equivalent of his saying (not that he does say) that he wants to forbid black people to settle in Indiana not because they’re black but because he’s afraid of them, and since race is therefore not his motive he isn’t discriminating. But that of course would be racial discrimination, just as his targeting Syrian refugees is discrimination on the basis of nationality [Posner, 2016.10.03, p. 5].
Finally, as if anticipating that Governor Pence might respond to this court loss by taking Texas’s route and withdrawing from the federal refugee resettlement program completely, he still can’t achieve his ratty policy goal of keeping Syrians out of Indiana:
A final oddity about the governor’s position is how isolated it is. There are after all fifty states, and nothing to suggest that Indiana is a magnet for Syrians. Although in the fall of 2015 a number of state governors issued statements opposing the resettlement of Syrian in their domains, their opposition petered out. Since then Syrian refugees have been resettled in 40 states (Indiana of course is one of them), and there is no indication that their absence from the other 10 is attributable to actions by state governments. Indiana is free to withdraw from the refugee assistance program, as other states have done; yet withdrawal might not interrupt the flow of Syrian refugees to the state because in states that choose not to participate in the refugee assistance program the federal government has been authorized to establish an alternative program, called Wilson/Fish, that distributes federal aid to refugees in a state without the involvement of the state government [Posner, 2016.10.03, pp. 5–6].
So, Branstnerian fearmongers, let’s review:
The United States has a thorough two-year refugee vetting process.
No evidence supports claims that Syrian refugees pose a terrorist threat to us.
Denying federal funds to Syrian refugees admitted to the country is illegal.
Individual states cannot block admitted refugees of any nationality, religion, etc. from traveling and settling where they wish in the United States.
We don’t need to engage any further with our local Branstner Klansters. We just need to send them copies of Posner’s ruling, an authoritative rebuke to anti-refugee fearmongering and the bogus attempt to reframe local elections in terms of national alt-right jabber.
Related: Last Thursday, the Sioux Falls Police Department arrested Sioux Falls Regional Airport security screener Connor Park, age 22, for making terroristic threats last week. Hard to tell what country he’s from, but surely Mike Pence and Ron Branstner will want to keep America safe from Park’s fellow countrymen.
“Discrimination against anyone is discrimination against all of us,” Saba said Thursday. “And if we have a Legislature that is starting to decide that we can discriminate against people that are different, whether it’s black or white or Indian or whether it’s because of their sexual orientation, that opens the door to discrimination against many other things. We can’t allow that trend to go on” [Dana Ferguson, “Dems Hope Frustration About ‘Discriminatory’ Bills Will Fuel Success,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.07.23].
Ferguson gets quotes from SDGOP chair Ryan Budmayr and Hart rival Rep. Herman Otten (Hart’s other Republican opponent, Isaac Latterell, got his fill of publicity for the week with his now famous Trump-not-mean-enough facepalm at the GOP convention and did not answer Ferguson’s call). Budmayr trivializes discriminationas a political distraction:
The South Dakota Republican Party is a big tent…. The Democrats are going to stay away from issues that have made South Dakota successful—low taxes, one of the best business business climates and limited government [Ryan Budmayr, in Ferguson, 2016.07.23].
Translation: Discrimination is no big deal, as long as the rich can get richer.
Rep. Otten goes off on a complete tangent:
We need to deal with illegal aliens that come into the country and it has nothing to do with discrimination…. It doesn’t matter what country they come from if they come here illegally [Rep. Herman Otten, in Ferguson, 2016.07.23].
Translation: I didn’t pay attention to the question or the bills being discussed, so I’m going to talk about an issue that wasn’t addressed by any of the discriminatory bills discussed by Hart, LaPlante, and Saba. I’m just going to rail against immigrants in general, because it’s not discrimination if we fear all immigrants.
“The Supreme Court’s ruling will be enforced,” Reeves wrote in Monday’s ruling.
“Mississippi’s elected official may disagree with Obergefell, of course, and may express that disagreement as they see fit — by advocating for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision, for example. But the marriage license issue will not be adjudicated anew after every legislative session,” the ruling says.
“And the judiciary will remain vigilant whenever a named party to an injunction is accused of circumventing that injunction, directly or indirectly.”
Mississippi was already been blocked from enforcing its ban on gay marriage but the order expands the so-called “recusal” provision of HB 1523.
“Clerks and their deputies are, after all, ‘public officials elected and paid by the county to serve the public and all of its citizens,'” Reeves wrote [Erik de la Garza, “Judge Blocks Mississippi Gay Marriage Recusal,” Courthouse News Service, 2016.06.28].
Hmm… it would seem I understand the Constitution better than our Attorney General and the seven-term Legislator who wants to keep me out of Pierre. Judge Reeves’s ruling on Mississippi’s religious discrimination law suggests Pierre is right where I need to be to prevent the state from getting sucked into more bad laws and costly lawsuits.
If I stretch, I can find two hopeful signs for Sioux Falls-area Democrats in Tuesday’s non-partisan municipal election.
First, long-time agitator Theresa Stehly won a City Council seat. She beat big money with smart, grassroots campaigning. Her opponents spent $35K and $25K; she spent $7K, campaigned smarter, and capitalized on her outsider, anti-establishment status. The fact that outgoing long-time councilman Kermit Staggers endorsed her helped a lot, too, and signals Stehly’s win is no perfect template for Democrat aspirants to other offices. But Stehly’s win shows that Democrats can get traction in Sioux Falls by emphasizing that they represent change from a stale, corrupt status quo.
Second, Amendment F, which adds “sexual orientation” to the classes protected from discrimination in Sioux Falls city jobs and appointed offices, passed big on Tuesday, winning 75.86% approval. It won a majority in all 67 precincts. The smallest majorities were in Precinct 114 (55.56%) and Precinct 116 (56.86%), both of which are in right wingnut Senator Ernie Otten’s District 6. Seven precincts passed Amendment F with majorities in the 60s. Nine precincts gave F 80% or more Ayes, including two other Otten precincts, 213 and 215.
If there was furor over this little notch in the gay-rights belt, I didn’t hear it, and voters didn’t respond to it.
One could argue that a municipal election with a meager 11.32% turnout doesn’t tell us much about what may happen when five, six, or seven times that many voters show up, but consider this: turnout in the 67 precincts ranged between 1.6% and 25.4%, and I find a small but statistically significant correlation between turnout and Ayes on F. In English, bring more Sioux Falls voters to the polls, and you get more support for a progressive measure like protecting gays, lesbians, and bisexuals from discrimination.
That tells me that if Sioux Falls Democrats speak up against the establishment, advocate progressive values like LGB(and T?) rights, offer the voters the opposite of David Omdahl’s dinosaur politics (no wonder he’s quitting!), and get out the vote (which a good Presidential year with a sane, humane Democratic nominee over the fascist and the weaselly theocrat left atop the GOP ticket, ought not be hard), they can win elections in South Dakota’s biggest metro.
(Bonus Hope: While Mayor Mike Huether tries to spin the low turnout as a sign that most voters think he’s doing a great job, the election of an anti-establishment candidate like Stehly suggests more dissatisfaction with the Huether regime and a desire to elect people like Stehly to carry on Staggers’s tradition of checking executive authority than Huether wants to admit. It might also suggest that Steve Hildebrand is right about Huether’s not being a good choice for the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2018.)
Amendments A and D make slight changes to local term limits, allowing councilors and mayors who come on board more than halfway through a vacating officials term to run for two full consecutive terms after that partial term service. Amendments A & D apply the same thinking as the 22nd Amendment does to the Presidency. I don’t mind these two changes, but on principle I would prefer to eliminate term limits altogether. In a democracy, we already have term limits for every office—they’re called elections. Term limits unfairly restrict the liberty of voters to choose whomever they want to represent them in government.
Amendment F updates city language on favoritism and discrimination. It changes the word “handicap” to “disability” to “use more modern terminology.” More substantially, Amendment F adds “sexual orientation” to the classes Sioux Falls protects from discrimination. If Sioux Falls voters pass that decent change, perhaps it will provoke retrogressive conservatives seeking to replace quitting Senator David Omdahl and his ilk to campaign on discriminatory legislation à la North Carolina to trump municipal ordinances and authorize discrimination against homosexuals under the guise of religious liberty. Sioux Falls voters, go ahead and pass Amendment F, and let’s dare Legislative candidates to stand up for what’s right!
Rep. Fred Deutsch (R-4/Deutsch) insists that, if he wins reëlection to the House, he’ll bring some new and improved form of his paranoid potty bill, the anti-transgender discrimination that Governor Dennis Daugaard wisely vetoed this Session. Rep. Deutsch says he’ll look to North Carolina as a model.
PayPal on Tuesday canceled plans to open a global operations center in Charlotte, North Carolina and invest $3.6 million in the area after the state passed a controversial law targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens.
The digital payment company’s protest is the first by a major business after North Carolina became the first state last month to enact a measure requiring people to use bathrooms or locker rooms in schools and other public facilities that match the gender on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity.
The law, which overturned a Charlotte city ordinance, was widely interpreted as an attack on LGBT rights. State lawmakers also voted to prohibit local governments from enacting anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
It’s already so hard to recruit businesses to South Dakota that Rep. Deutsch and the Legislature gives the Governor $46 million in GOED mad money just to entice companies to the prairie. Raising the banner of discrimination and spite even higher will only make our economic development challenges harder.
Fred Deutsch and the Republican Party: willing to tank South Dakota’s economy in the name of bigotry.
Accountable South Dakota reports over 100 people showed up to protest legislative malpractice at this morning’s crackerbarrel for Districts 13, 14, and 15 at the downtown Sioux Falls Holiday Inn. One picture aptly sums up what’s wrong with the South Dakota Legislature: