Roy Steele blogs about LGBT civil rights from San Francisco under the banner Jive in the 415. Steele grew up in New Jersey, but he has roots in Redfield, South Dakota. His Republican great-grandfather Charles Tisdale Howard was South Dakota’s first U.S. Attorney and fourth Speaker of the House.
Steele thus has a double interest in asking Governor Dennis Daugaard to veto House Bill 1008, the anti-trans potty bill. In an open letter to our Governor, Steele says HB 1008 is based on “propaganda and misinformation” from anti-LGBT groups determined “to demonize transgender people.” Steele rejects the bill sponsors’ assertions that they are acting the best interest of children:
…I must urge you to veto HB 1008, because signing this bill would subject young school-age South Dakotans to increased scrutiny which will negatively impact their lives. This bill endangers their physical safety, health, mental health and personal privacy [Roy Steele, open letter to Governor Dennis Daugaard, 2016.02.25].
Steele feels compelled by his family history and upbringing to stand up for the children whom HB 1008 would oppress:
Rep. Charles Tisdale Howard of Redfield married Eugenia Beecher, and they named their fourth child Harriet (my grandmother) after Eugenia’s favorite aunt Harriet Beecher Stowe. When Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe for the first time, it was reported that he said: “so you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”
Charles and Eugenia Howard had four children, nine grandchildren, and twenty-six great-grandchildren. They had no way of knowing that they would have two gay great-grandchildren and that one would be an LGBT activist.
From Harriet Beecher Stowe to Charles and Eugenia Howard, to Admiral Roy A. Gano and Harriet Howard Gano (my grandparents), to my own parents, it was instilled in me to not be disaffected, and to fight for what’s right and what I believe in. That’s why I’m writing and sharing my story in this letter.
If HB 1008 is enacted, how much will it cost the state of South Dakota? The loss in federal funds, the cost of lengthy litigation, and the possibility that every public building would have to build and construct additional restrooms to accommodate the law, makes the cost prohibitive. If you add in the human cost, and the damage the bill inflicts on LGBT people, the cost increases more [Steele, 2016.02.25].
Governor Dennis Daugaard has until Tuesday to veto HB 1008.