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South Dakota Legislators Promote Shameful Discrimination and Hatred

Stu Whitney looks at the South Dakota Legislature’s willingness to stigmatize and deny equality to people who don’t look or love the way their Ward-and-June morality says they should and cries shame on us:

For South Dakota, though, there is no time to wait. There are bills in circulation that reflect the way in which we choose to treat people in this state, and how we wish to be viewed.

There has been quite a bit of discussion about keeping college graduates here at home, luring professionals to our cities, preparing South Dakota for the transition from an older, rural demographic to one that might brighten our future.

What kind of culture do we want to promote? One that sends a frightened transgender kid into a makeshift bathroom, refuses service to a same-sex couple, declines a promotion to an unmarried pregnant woman?

Pushing an agenda of discrimination under the guise of “religious freedom” is an irresponsible use of power, as is distorting the notion of what many South Dakotans consider the word “Christian” to mean. Allowing evangelical outsiders to tell us how to treat people? We’ve always been better than that.

Of course, in a representative democracy, silence can be deafening. Demanding sound judgment and basic decency from public officials is the job of citizens (and media), and South Dakota becomes more remote and irrelevant if our voice falters [Stu Whitney, “Shame on You, South Dakota,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.02.06].

At the crackerbarrels this morning, Rep. Steven Haugaard (R-10/Sioux Falls) calls last summer’s marriage-equality ruling “fluff.” Senator David Omdahl (R-11/Sioux Falls) defends the Legislature’s war on transgender students by saying, “I’m sorry if you’re so twisted you don’t know who you are” and says transgender people “should receive mental treatment.” Rep. Mark Willadsen (R-11/Sioux Falls) calls transgender people “unfortunate.” Rep. Jim Stalzer (R-11/Sioux Falls) calls transgender people “he/she/whatever“.

As long as South Dakota treats any citizen as a “whatever,” South Dakota will deserve its shame.


  1. larry kurtz 2016-02-06

    These legislators are why South Dakota’s weather is so crappy.

  2. Porter Lansing 2016-02-06

    More malignance from your Republican Haybilly Hate State … “SHAME ON YOU SOUTH DAKOTA” ~ Stu Whitney

  3. Lynn 2016-02-06

    Just another beautiful Saturday here in South Dakota my bestest friends. :)

  4. larry kurtz 2016-02-06

    Lynn has livestock. Who knew?

  5. Porter Lansing 2016-02-06

    Is it lonely in LOSERVILLE, Lynn? lol

  6. Loren 2016-02-06

    SD has the warmest, most welcoming folks… as long as your mindset is in the 1950s! Are we really trying to become the Mississippi of the north?

  7. mike from iowa 2016-02-06

    Wingnuts hide behind their imaginary god when they do something illegal and/or immoral. They claim their god forgave them and the public should,too. So why can’t they forgive trans-gendered people for being the way they were created? Apparently wingnut kristianity is a one way street that only works for wingnuts.

  8. Madman 2016-02-06

    I’m waiting for the legislation that has us building a wall or internment camps.

  9. Kimberly Jacobson 2016-02-06

    It was a genuine and deep disappointment to hear what they had to say. I hope this is not a reflection of what their constituents truly believe.

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-06

    1950s, Porter? Back, back, back…

    Stu Whitney notes that the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian fundamentalists offering to cover the legal bills out schools will rack up implementing the Deutsch potty bill, “seeks to recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries.” Josh Israel of ThinkProgress reported finding that line on ADF’s legal fellowship program website in May 2014; I cannot find that line on ADF’s website today.

  11. 96Tears 2016-02-06

    Rep. Steven Haugaard this morning at the Sioux Falls crackerbarrel said his support of the death penalty is founded on his experience as a lawyer who has visited the state penitentiary. And if you have ever visited the state penitentiary, as Rep. Haugaard has in his official capacity, you would see the condition of those prisoners. It’s beyond our ability as dumb citizens to comprehend. But if we were as smart and as sensitive to the human condition as Rep. Haugaard, we would see that it is cruel … cruel, I say … to think that a life sentence would be preferable to the death penalty. Oh my Lord!

    My takeaway: Shoot them like a diseased dog and put them out of their misery, because if those puppies could just talk, they’d say, squeeze the trigger daddy. I’m a goner.

  12. Roger Elgersma 2016-02-06

    I agree with some of this and not with all of it.
    When a boy wants to be like a girl so much that he wants to meet them in the bathroom, I and anyone who thinks morals is good might have a problem with that. Besides, how would a person with girl parts use a urinal anyways. Would she ask a boy to hold her just right so the urinal would work for her?
    But I do think that someone that did not abort her kid and kept the kid even though Dad did not like to be Dad, she should not miss an opportunity for a better job just because she decided to be responsible enough to not abort her kid. She should not be punished for her choice. You can not punish her for the choice of keeping her kid and still be against abortion.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-06

    Roger, you misportray the situation in the bathroom. Transgender kids don’t go to the bathroom to meet girls or boys. They go to the bathroom to pee and poop, just as you and I do.

  14. bearcreekbat 2016-02-06

    If these mean spirited bills didn’t intend to hurt and discriminate against others, the bathroom paranoia would be almost comical. For example, if you google images of transgender men, you will see that most females who identify as males take hormones, grow facial hair, have sex reassignment surgery, develop male muscular features, and look nothing like a female. SD’s sex obsessed lawmakers apparently want to force these people who appear to be men to use women’s rest rooms. I wonder how most women would feel about sharing their restroom with folks who look like Aydian Dowling:

    If these lawmakers succeed in making people who look like muscular men and boys with facial hair and outward male characteristics use women’s rest rooms in SD, how will anyone ever know who is a man or woman in any restroom? Indeed, such laws would enable any non-transgender man or boy to walk into a woman’s bathroom to check out the goods, simply pretending to be a female who now looks like a male without dressing up or changing his appearance.

  15. Roger Elgersma 2016-02-06

    Cory, most gays I have met are bisexual and not really into same sex only. Research shows that LGBT are much more promisquous than average. Gays have an average of eight partners the last year and heteros had an average of between one and two partners per year. So if on average they are looking for more partners more than others and you put them in the same bathroom as the opposite parts, that is not a good thing for those who may be thinking of more than peeing and pooping. Hormones do not shut off when one goes into a little room and pulls their pants down.

  16. jimmy james 2016-02-06

    I am a Republican but wow, that District 11 has elected some pretty special guys. They have managed to find three hillbillies from the plains of western Sioux Falls. Embarrassing.

  17. Rorschach 2016-02-06

    Culture warriors are rapidly losing the war, and they are lashing out trying to win peripheral battles and skirmishes – however minor.

    Let’s say they get their goofy transgender bathroom bill into law. They will pat each other on their hairy backs at one of the free booze legislator hospitality rooms in Pierre and brag about how they took away local control and cluttered the law books with something that affects almost nobody. Meanwhile transgender kids, if any, will still find a bathroom to use – guaranteed. I have it on good authority that there are stalls in BOTH men’s and women’s bathrooms.

  18. Rorschach 2016-02-06

    Roger, are you suggesting that the legislature ban gay people from public bathrooms?

  19. jimmy james 2016-02-06

    Even in South Dakota, these yaholes will look like the uneducated reactionaries that they are in just a few short years. So, let em have it. History will not be kind to them. Smart Republicans (yes, there are some) know it too.

  20. Lynn 2016-02-06

    Jimmy James,

    What do you feel the short and long term economic impact will be from the publicity and legislation such as this?

  21. Lynn 2016-02-06

    Does anyone know what Porter’s comment “Is it lonely in LOSERVILLE, Lynn? lol” has to do with this particular thread?

  22. Lanny V Stricherz 2016-02-06

    No need to worry, the LRC has got the legislature’s website shut down for the weekend, so that we cannot contact our legislators by email on any of the more than 400 bills that are out there.

  23. Richard Schriever 2016-02-06

    Roger, where are the foundational documents about the moral aspects of peeing and pooping to be found? Indeed, what ARE the moral vs. immoral ways of peeing and pooping? Can one do both at once? Or only one at a time?? I must have missed the Lutheran Catechism classes about all that.

  24. Richard Schriever 2016-02-06

    Lanny – actually the ENTIRE state of SD Web presence is down – so NO ONE can do any kind of business or research with the state. Me, I wanted to print out some voter registration forms to take along with me on my nominating petition walk today. Couldn’t do it. At least 4 people, therefor, have to wait to register to vote ’til the state (site) comes back to life.

  25. jimmy james 2016-02-06


    There would have to be a lot of publicity for these laws to produce a serious backlash. In addition, there are a few other states competing with us for that anti-gay title. But, we’ll see.

  26. Lanny V Stricherz 2016-02-06

    How convenient with so little time left on the session. Wouldn’t want to hear what the citizens have to say about our preordained agenda.

  27. Lynn 2016-02-06

    Watched the Sioux Falls legislative coffee at the Argus site and I really don’t care for their format. Having people go before a mic where they can be identified and personally asking their elected representative is far better for both the constituent and elected representative. The representative can see who it is asking and the constituent has an opportunity to communicate better face to face with emotion rather than just passing a card which is anonymous.

    Those legislators need to come under fire and be held accountable for their comments, votes and sponsorship of bills. They could be complimented and given credit also but face to face interaction at legislative coffee/crackerbarrels seem to me healthier in our democracy.

    2nd that very annoying woman from the South Dakota AARP commercials was the moderator and at times was just short of fingernails on a chalkboard moderation/voice/inflection.

    The sound quality was not very good.

  28. Lanny V Stricherz 2016-02-06

    Well finally something we can agree on Lynn. I quit attending those 20 years ago for that very reason. They want you to write you questions and then the ones that have the most people on somewhat the same topic, even if they are diametrically opposed, are the ones that get asked.

  29. Spencer 2016-02-06

    When the Left tries to brainwash kids into constantly putting themselves into confrontational and improper situations, the resultant is a society that needs to say “no.” This is the response to the Left’s experimentation of using teenagers for identity politics to their advantage. As to what happens to these kids once they are used and abused by the Left, I doubt liberals care. The political statement has been made. Whether it ruins the rest of their lives is of little consequence to many on the Left.

  30. Lynn 2016-02-06


    I agree and suspect that we hardly agree on many things but this may be one. The format of this is rigged and those legislators are in a coddled atmosphere and they waste too much time complimenting and introducing them also. Face to face question and answer period focusing valuable time on the business end of the legislative coffee/crackerbarrel and minimize the fluff.

  31. mike from iowa 2016-02-06

    Roger E-I think you will find that bi-sexuality is in a class of its own. Studies have shown that although some Gay people come out as bi,bi-sexuals tend to stay bi-sexual for the duration.

  32. mike from iowa 2016-02-06

    Spencer-wtf? R U sniffing glue?

  33. Lynn 2016-02-06


    Much of this type of legislation was not needed and in probably 99.9% of cases this would of been handled in a very discreet way between the child, parents or parent, local school staff, and a mental health professional that would be as respectful and non-threatening to all parties involved.

    Remember this is South Dakota in which many people know each other and live in these communities. Alienating your neighbors, customers and friends is stressful and hard to do besides the potential of being costly.

  34. Jenny 2016-02-06

    Boy, how did people ever survive before with transgenders walking amongst them. Transgender people have always been around, so really, what is with the hysteria? This reminds me of the racial segregation Jim Crow laws the South had.

    Like Stu Whitney says “shame on you, South Dakota”. Time to call MPR again to report the latest hate bill that SDs GOP is known for.

  35. Ken Santema 2016-02-06

    If this bill is signed into law it would be interesting to see the vote from a referral.

  36. mike from iowa 2016-02-06

    Lynn-R U hung up on gayness and transgenderness being mental health problems?

  37. Lynn 2016-02-06

    Mike Who Resides in Iowa,

    It’s difficult at times to understand or interpret what they heck you are posting due to it being being mangled and close to being illiterate or your choosing to come across that way.

    Anyways your fishing for something that does not exist regarding my position on the subject of this thread.

    Do yourself a favor. Look into taking some classes to continue your education. There must be a community college, college or a place where you can take some classes near where you live. It’s never too late to try to improve one self. Otherwise you do yourself a disservice by giving the impression your a complete moron unless that is your preference.

  38. Rorschach 2016-02-06

    What’s the Libertarian perspective on HB 1008, Ken?

  39. Ken Santema 2016-02-06

    Personally I think there are a few different issues that have converged.

    As to transgenders choosing the bathroom that fits with how they feel as a gender. Who really cares which bathroom they use? Nobody is hurt if they accidentally see genitalia of any sex. If there is no victim, what reason can there be for a crime (although there is no crime attached to this law).

    Another issue here is the Obama administration reinterpreting Title IX. I think the new policy is right, but not legal. It should be the job of Congress to amend Title IX to include gender. It is very specific to sex, and no talk of gender at all. The new interpretation looks a like a case of a federal agency twisting laws to suit their notion of how it should be.

    A third issue is the SDHSAA. There is an ongoing urban/rural cultural war going on in SD (and nationwide). The same appears to be happening with member schools of the HSAA. I’ve talked to athletic directors from certain small districts that feel they are having a “big city agenda” pushed on them. That goes well beyond the transgender issue and there probably is no fix for that.

    Finally I think the groups that pushed to get the new transgender policy passed by the SDHSAA purposely pushed hard in SD in order to cause this cultural war. They knew what would happen, having tried to get legislation similar to the SDHSAA transgender policy introduced in Pierre. They weren’t successful so they went through the SDHSAA. A better approach may have been to allow transgender students to use existing policies to play sports outside of their sex; then after a few transgender have done so they could easily show how the current policies of segregating them were causing undue burden by not letting them be with their teammates in the locker room.

  40. Rorschach 2016-02-06

    Thanks, Ken. Well thought out.

  41. Richard Schriever 2016-02-06

    The “urban/rural culture war” was won by urbanites a long time ago. 80% of US population currently resides in urban areas. The US’ culture is an urban culture. In SD, 57% of the population resides in urban areas, while 43% are in rural areas. So even here – “out in the country” (only 4 states are more rural to SD) – urban culture is the majority culture.

  42. Richard Schriever 2016-02-06

    So, to my reading Ken, the rural folks in SD are an identifiable minority, who seem to be asking for governmental protection against the tyranny of the majority “city folk”. One wonders if they appreciate the irony of their position relative to the gender identity issue.

  43. Bob Newland 2016-02-06

    Ken, I think you are an excellent spokesman for the Libertarian and libertarian points of view.

  44. Bob Newland 2016-02-06

    Roger Elgersma says: “Hormones do not shut off when one goes into a little room and pulls their pants down.”

    Apparently yours don’t. Pray to the lord, Rog.

  45. grudznick 2016-02-06

    There should be a law that says if the state shuts down the website then all law bill posted on it are dead.

  46. grudznick 2016-02-06

    Mr. Santema is indeed a fine spokesman for Libertarians and people of liberty of all ilks. It is a bonus he puts out a really swell blog with links to bills and information too.

    Bravo, Mr. Santema. It is times like this when government is shutting down websites to hide emails about nefarious dealings of senators that we need men like Mr. Santema on that wall.

  47. Mike M 2016-02-06

    I am seeing similar stories out of other states. Do these alleged representatives go to some national convention each year where they get programmed with the script for the year? The perennial abortion bans appears to be on a back burner this session?

  48. leslie 2016-02-07

    oh grudz u cant handle truth

  49. mike from iowa 2016-02-07

    Well Miss Know-it-all Lynn, why do you think transgender students need a mental health professional to talk to them and the school and the parents? Why not just answer the question and stop beating around the bush? This isn’t dodge ball,but you sidestep and duck like a pro.

  50. mike from iowa 2016-02-07

    Isn’t it a well known fact that a woman’s “lady bits” aren’t actually visible w/o some serious investigating? It isn’t like they are hanging loose and flopping around for the world to see like some guys Johnson.

  51. Steve Hickey 2016-02-07

    Ignoring all the psychological arguments of causality I know that those who’ve been given the greatest personal challenges in life, if they survive them, come away with the greatest empathy for others. In that sense the trans community has something to offer that the normal world isn’t producing. In that sense, trans kids are gifted, not twisted. Sometimes God sends the outcast our way to us to teach us or test us. Christians in the SD legislature are failing this test.

    Maybe this will help you understand the Christians in the legislature. They view the trans issue through only through an integrity framework; anything outside male and female violates or confuses a sacred integrity. On the other end are those here who view it all through a diversity framework and diversity is to be celebrated not stifled. In the middle are those who view it through a disability framework, and to be treated with compassion and special accommodation. My gift comment is made from within that vantage point. (A disability is a non moral reality to be addressed with compassion). A disability can be a gift that makes us better people. Disabled people get it that they are different but they don’t want to be treated different.

  52. Lynn 2016-02-07

    Mike Who Resides in Iowa,

    “why do you think transgender students need a mental health professional to talk to them and the school and the parents?”

    Seriously! Are you really that stupid or is it just an act and your looking for conflict because your an angry old man spending day and night on this blog ranting about wingnuts, Christians and whatever else?

    Kids have enough challenges growing up but when you throw in gender identity issues it can be a very intense journey and make them very vulnerable bullying and being ostracised. If that child does have gender identity issues those issues can vary in intensity from child to child.

    One of the first things a parent or parents should do is seek out a mental health professional that has experience in this area and who follows the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care

    That mental health professional will be looking for any underlying issues that could be causing those feelings or questions about gender identity and explore possible alternatives and options since proceeding down that path of living and changing one’s physical gender is a very serious journey with serious consequences and costs.

    Contrary to what people like Steve Hickey, Jim Bolin and others have stated it is not like some kid and parent going to a therapist and she or he while making money with billable hours will just green light everything and give the child everything they want being careful not to tell them anything that could be unpleasant and losing a lucrative client.

    A mental health professional experienced with this and who follows the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care will go over as much as they can so that child and parent will be aware of the what to expect both good and bad since it is such a very hard journey and will always present other options and alternatives to explore in what would be in the best interest for the patient.

    Given the seriousness of this it would most likely be in their best interest for those parents or parent to work together as a team/support system with teachers, coaches, administration, mental health professional and even a Priest, Rabbi, Inman or whatever spiritual support person they may have if it helps to provide the most seamless transition with the best interest of the child in mind.

  53. Lynn 2016-02-07

    Ever since I have stated that I am against legalizing another intoxicant in which I have personally seen the widespread wreckage caused by addiction in our most vulnerable populations seeking to escape the pain inflicted upon them I get attacked on just about every non-related thread.

  54. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-07

    (Boo hoo, Lynn. When you take a single secondary issue and turn it into a reason to betray the only political party that will stand for justice for you and every South Dakotan, you should expect to draw heat and mistrust. Dems stand up to this GOP bullying, but you keep making calls for the GOP and slagging Dems for attending the same fundraising event as some unsuccessful marijuana dealers? We lie in the beds we make. Carry on.)

  55. grudznick 2016-02-07

    Ms. Lynn, you are doing a good service but you cannot talk sense into a brain addled by weed. Keep up the good fight. There are probably some of the legislatures that will support you.

  56. Rorschach 2016-02-07

    Sounds like you struck a nerve, Mike. Lyn is a mental health professional. I’m convinced that people go into the mental health profession because they are trying to understand their own pathology. Kind of fits, doesn’t it Mike?

  57. Rorschach 2016-02-07

    Lyn is convinced that all children are abused by their fathers, so any gender identity issue comes down to that. According to Lyn it’s the parent’s duty to find a compliant mental health professional and take the child there until such time as the counselor determines that paternal abuse is the “underlying issue that could be causing those feelings or questions about gender identity.”

  58. Lynn 2016-02-07


    Good try but you missed on both accounts. I have said nothing about parent/father abuse or anything like that. Instead there may come a time or when a parent or parents need help in how to best help their child. Every situation is different.

    As mentioned above ever since I stated my disagreement for legalizing another intoxicant in our state the tone has changed by those favoring legalization and I have been attacked and baited in non-related threads. It gets tiresome but it is what it is. It dominates their life and I understand. Addicts will fight like hell to protect their “fix.”

  59. larry kurtz 2016-02-07

    There are those who fear the danger of addiction and this is a concern but addiction is already present and we lack the funds to address it. I ask these same people to show me one person who has overdosed on marijuana, and to quote Tucker Max, “I will show you my stable of rainbow colored unicorns ridden by Leprechauns.” The time to legalize is now.

  60. mike from iowa 2016-02-07

    Lynn-you are full of more shit than a Kristmas turkey.

  61. mike from iowa 2016-02-07

    Lynn-just another Sibby-type nutjob.

  62. Jenny 2016-02-07

    But Hickey, transgenders don’t want special accommodations. They don’t want to be thought of as disabled. I guarantee you this bill if it becomes law will just make bullying worse. Does SD really want to do that?

  63. Mike Henriksen 2016-02-07

    One correction Mr. Santema. The SDHSAA put together their policy because they were asked by a couple of their member school districts for guidance. These districts had students that were in transition. John Krogstrand of the SDHHSAA then researched what other states were doing and what courts had ruled. There was nothing nefarious going on.

    As far as Activity Directors feeling this is a “big city agenda”, the school districts that first approached the SDHSAA were both small. The smartest administrators want the state to have a policy in place. It provides consistency, and adds an extra layer of legal protection for the district.

    And as an update, the students that caused the formulation of the policy are no longer participating in sports. But other districts have since informed the SDHSAA that they are now in a similar situation and requested guidance.

  64. Roger Williams 2016-02-11

    This is Appalling! South Dakota politicians should do more research. I am not Transgender, but I know some wonderful men and woman who are. They are far from “Twisted”. They are loving, caring, intelligent, productive, hardworking people that are citizens of this great state. Oh… and they pay taxes! This bill passing upset me yes. But what really made me furious is that our politicians are now harming our children! Not only transgender children either! Our politicians are teaching all children of South Dakota that it is ok to discriminate against anybody who is different or people you don’t understand. Our politicians claim that they support the anti-bullying in this state. Well, now they have opened the door wide open with the target being transgender youth.
    I personally am going to open the lines of communication with the LGBTQ and Ally’s across the United States encouraging them to spread the word to plan their vacations to anywhere but South Dakota. It seems like the only things politicians listen to is money! Let’s see what happens with the billions of dollars of expendable income from the LGBTQ and Ally’s money is not filling South Dakota’s pockets.

  65. J Johnson 2016-02-12

    And you wonder why I chose to move away? I would rather live with pagans who treat ALL of their fellow humans with respect than to live in the middle of a “Christian” enclave with lawmakers determined to legislate their own twisted vision of morality.

    There is something very “sick and twisted” about grown men who are so concerned about others’ reproductive organs.

  66. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-12

    J Johnson, my heart always sinks to think our leaders have scared good people away from the state I love. I’ll keep working to rally people to fight this injustice and make South Dakota welcoming home for everyone.

Comments are closed.