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Greenfields Don’t Understand Discrimination, Make Excuses for Religious Discrimination in Adoption

Lana and Brock Greenfield
South Dakota’s most visible non-experts on discrimination

Our Legislature’s mother-son duo, Lana and Brock Greenfield, evidently don’t understand the word discrimination.

UNESCO defines discrimination as “the selection for unfavourable treatment of an individual or individuals on the basis of gender, race, colour or ethnic or national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, social class, age (subject to the usual conventions on retirement), marital status or family responsibilities, or as a result of any conditions or requirements that do not accord with the principles of fairness and natural justice.”

Responding to a question at yesterday’s Aberdeen crackerbarrel about her vote for Senate Bill 149, the harmful and discriminatory measure to allow adoption agencies to deny services to same-sex couples and any other parents whom the agency deems not right with the agency’s Lord, Representative Lana Greenfield said she knows all about discrimination, because she’s a victim:

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.

“I was discriminated against because I could not put up a sign on my door that said ‘yes, this is a smoking establishment’ or ‘no we don’t allow smoking here,’” Greenfield said [Shannon Marvel, “Child Placement Bill Discussed Protecting Religious Beliefs,” Aberdeen American News, 2017.03.04].

This is the part where I had to put the paper down and wait twelve hours before writing.

Representative Greenfield, the situation you 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.


  1. Mark Winegar 2017-03-06

    Suppose secular organizations refused service to those who believe. Do you think they would protest?

  2. Kristi 2017-03-06

    Personally I liked the way Al Novstrup kept making the leap that, essentially, asking someone “have you ever committed a felony” is discrimination on par with asking “are you lgbtq” or “are you Muslim” or “are you disabled.” Haven’t read the news article so I don’t know if it’s mentioned but I also like the way Brock Greenfield insisted that that the bill doesn’t apply to any organization that receives state funds, even after being read the relevant text that allows this by Jason Frerichs. I don’t remember if this was one of the Greenfields or Novstrup because, honestly, by this point I was pretty much running through every angry reaction internet gif I could think of because I wasn’t sure words would actually express how I felt about this, but the conclusion that the exemptions of race, ethnicity, or nationality were good enough to make the bill not-discriminatory.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-06

    Mark, I don’t want to see anyone discriminate, but it would be interesting to test that aspect of SB 149. Under the Johns amendment to SB 149, a secular agency would have to have some written statement of beliefs that says “We believe children are best raised in a household promotes open intellectual inquiry” or something like that.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-06

    Kristi, thanks for that note. I’m stunned by the kinds of word games that Novstrup, the Greenfields, and the rest of their party will resort to to defend their bad bills. I could not sustain that level of deception toward the public or toward myself.

  5. Francis Schaffer 2017-03-06

    These are actual quotes? I am a member of the Second Hand Smokers League, what about me?(sarcasm). The reason you will not be able to adopt under this law is not because you don’t go to church, but rather because you don’t go to the correct church and do not have the correct beliefs.(sarcasm). I will love to hear Marty defend this one.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-06

    Francis, the paper published those words with quote marks around them, so I take them as accurate. I welcome the Greenfields to drop by the comment section and offer any correction or elaboration they deem fit.

  7. Troy 2017-03-06


    You are a bigot.

  8. Jenny 2017-03-06

    Why do republicans hate gays?

  9. T 2017-03-06

    Women are
    To have their babies and republicans will decide
    Who can adopt them and oh ya, we will drug test you if you want any assistance to raise that kid we made you have before
    You can have any assistance that we will be cutting anyway. … oh and btw we are cutting birth control out of covered expenses in health insurance so I’m sure we will be seeing you again in nine months …. but you can be rest assured no same sex households will be raising your baby …….

  10. Joe Nelson 2017-03-06

    Boggles my mind why someone who wants to adopt, but is not religious, would go through a religious adoption agency. Tax payer dollars are already going to things like, which will help you find an adoption agency/child.

    Specific to my own religion (Catholicism!), many Catholic adoption agencies throughout the states have shut down, not because of major theological controversies, but because they held that the best family situation for an adoptive child is with a married mom (female) and dad (male).

    I argue that discrimination (“the selection for unfavourable treatment of an individual or individuals on the basis of gender, race, colour or ethnic or national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, social class, age (subject to the usual conventions on retirement), marital status or family responsibilities, or as a result of any conditions or requirements that do not accord with the principles of fairness and natural justice.”) is happening against Catholic Charities, who are forbidden in places like Washington D.C. from acting as an adoption agency, based on their religion and religious beliefs.

    SB 149 would deter this discrimination. Interestingly, the bill does state ” If a child-placement agency declines to provide any services, the child-placement agency shall provide in writing information advising the applicant of the Department of Social Services website and a list of licensed child-placement agencies with contact information.”

    So even if the vast droves of gay couples who for whatever reason, go through an adoption agency that does not work with gay couples, that adoption agency would still have to give them the names of adoption agencies they could work with.

    Unless I am missing something, and the MSM is not reporting on it, are gay couples in SD having a tough time adopting?

  11. Joe Nelson 2017-03-06


    I only see only one secular adoption agency as well, and couldn’t say to what extent the Lutherans would discriminate against same-sex couples in regards to adopting. Do you know any Lutheran pastors? ;)

    Thank goodness though, since the privilege of adopting does not need to be done through an adoption agency, and any same-sex couple can approach pregnant women or secular lawyers to their hearts’ content. Or use a surrogate?

    There does not seem to be a shortage of children needing adopting, and I do not think it is the case that discriminating adoption agencies are corning the market on adoption (see previous paragraph on other ways to adopt/acquire children).

    We are talking about South Dakota here, a state that has…one abortion clinic? Perhaps the Judeo-Christian values run too deep, that most folk would want to go through a Christian adoption agency, and those few who do not, go through the one secular agency?

  12. Joe Nelson 2017-03-06


    Just checked, there are currently 21 kids awaiting adoption in South Dakota, all through DSS. At least 21 of the many same-sex/divorced couples looking to adopt can adopt any of these kids free of any discrimination (well, besides the obvious discrimination that the state is going to impose.)

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-07

    What fraction of the total number of kids awaiting adoption are the 21 on the state list?

    I wonder if we can discuss child-placement services as a public accommodation. If so, then this discussion about SB 149 might sound like a discussion in 1954 Selma: “There are 50 diners in town, and 20 of them serve colored folk, so quit complaining!”

    On whether LSS would discriminate: problem is, customers shouldn’t have to wonder. They should know that no service provider will discriminate.

    We don’t let people sell hamburgers only to straight Baptists; I’m inclined to believe the same restriction should apply to placing children for adoption.

  14. Joe Nelson 2017-03-07

    Public accommodation? People are free to go to any lawyer or any pregnant woman and seek adoption. I am going to go out on a limb and say there are more lawyers and pregnant women (plus the tax payer funded DSS) in SD then there are religiously affiliated adoption agencies. We allow private schools to exist, and they are allowed to discriminate as to who is allowed to enroll, but there is public school available for all children. I think there is already public accommodation for adoption, by virtue of the DSS.

    I do not think this bill is harmful, and I do not think it is harmfully discriminatory. Discrimination has become a buzz word, and it always has a bad connotation. I discriminate against which women I kiss (specifically just my wife). Even the case workers and children themselves list preferences about who they would like to be adopted by (every child I looked at of the 21 said they preferred to be place with a married Christian couple).

    There is no proof or reasons given as to why this bill is harmful, people just say it is. Kids will still get adopted, people of any persuasion can still adopt kids.

    I imagine a business that only sold hamburgers to straight white people would go out of business fairly quickly.

  15. happy camper 2017-03-07

    But if you are the parent giving up your child for adoption, shouldn’t you have the right to exclude gay parents? Making a comparison to serving blacks at the lunch counter strikes me as false equivalency.

    Speaking as the gay male: male/male relationships are not the same as male/female. Most are not monogamous without even having the goal of being so. The numbers are staggeringly different, documented all over the place, even in the book The Male Couple written by a gay male couple. Trust me I would love to say differently but my eyes are open on this, and they are often not very solid, long-lasting relationships (though neither are straight relationships today). Lesbians are very different however, the numbers back this up too. They tend to be monogamous.

    I’m not saying a lack of monogamy must exclude two men from adopting, but when a religious agency has those values, and wants to place children in keeping with their values, they should be allowed to do so in my opinion.

    We still have the law that Native Americans should be placed with other Native Americans and there’s a claw back. There’s that well-known case where the father who was Native got the child back from an adoptive white couple after being with them for years. Does culture not matter? What if you want your child to be raised in a Christian family, Mulsim family, etc. Why are those things not important?

    As the gay one I also don’t think anyone should be forced to bake a cake for a gay wedding if they don’t want to, that’s closer to the lunch counter comparison but still false equivalency. Just go find another baker. Race and sexuality are not the same.

    Article: The Dirty Little Secret: Most Gay Couples Aren’t Monogamous
    “But the thorny part of the gay marriage experiment is sex, and more precisely, monogamous sex. Mundy writes about an old study from the ’80s that found that gay couples were extremely likely to have had sex outside their relationship—82 percent did.”

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-07

    Joe, I use “public accommodation” as the term is used to describe restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses that provide services to customers.

    The distinction between adoption and education here would be that the state is committed, as you note, to providing an education system that serves all comers. If all private schools closed, the public system should still be designed to take in all students tomorrow.

    Does the state provide a child-placement agency that can handle every adoption? If the private child-placement agencies all quit, wouldn’t DSS have to expand its staff and resources dedicated to adoption by an order of magnitude?

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-07

    On “discrimination”, I don’t think SB 149 opponents are misusing the word. SB 149 says adoption agencies can deny service to people just because they are atheists, Muslims, Jews, Baptists, or of some other religious persuasion the service providers find objectionable. That’s discrimination.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-07

    Hap, I’m not convinced a biological parent surrendering parental rights retains any absolute right to discriminate against gay parents.

    I will accept your experience that male/male relationships appear to be less monogamous than male/female and female/female. However, if the concern that children need more stable relationships, the solution is not to grant adoption agencies permission to blanket discriminate against gay men. As you acknowledge, lots of hetero couples are doing a crappy job of monogamy and stability. The proper solution is thus what I assume happens in the status quo: evaluate each couple on a case-by-case basis. Do the home study to determine just how stable the home is. Put the kids with parents who offer a good home… but don’t assume that just because the parents are gay, we can exclude them from consideration.

    The private adoption agencies are asking to invoke criteria that don’t reliably distinguish good parents from bad parents. Hap invokes personal experiences, so so will I: My wife and I would fail to meet the religious criteria of many of the adoption agencies that are asking for this law. Yet I would contend that in the fifteen years that my wife and I have maintained our monogamous commitment, we’ve maintained a more stable, adoption-ready household than a lot of Christian couples who would pass SB 149 muster.

  19. Joe Nelson 2017-03-07

    DSS would have to expand, just as the public schools would have to expand. If we just take O’Gorman High School, if it were to close today, there is no way the public schools would be able to accommodate such an influx of students. More teachers would need to be hired, more bus drivers, more lunch personnel, et cetera… This is exactly why SB 149 should be passed, so that adoption agencies are not forced to close their doors because of their religious beliefs.

    As for the use of the word discrimination, I agree that it is happening, but that it is not a harmful discrimination.

    Just because you and your wife might not meet the muster of many of the private adoption agencies, this does not stop you from going straight through DSS, or a lawyer, or finding a pregnant woman and asking for her baby. And regardless of which agency, or no agency, one goes through, a home-study is still necessary.

  20. Joe Nelson 2017-03-07

    I have reached out to the various agencies in the state, and I am awaiting answers. It should be worth noting that even I, the Super Catholic that I am, would not be qualified to go through Catholic Family Services, as I do not meet one of their requirements “Are unable to conceive and bear children or have medical problems that may be complicated by a pregnancy. It is expected the couple would have consulted a physician regarding their fertility problems prior to formal application.”

  21. bearcreekbat 2017-03-07

    The idea that a parent who cannot raise a child should be able to control the future placement of that child sounds reasonable but is probably not that feasible in most cases and is downright unreasonable in others.

    For example, if the state terminates a person’s parental rights without his or her consent then the parent has been found to be unfit and the parent has no ability to decide the child’s future placements.

    Even if the parent intends to voluntarily terminate his or her parental rights SD statutes do not authorize the parent to determine the child’s placement. The circuit court must decide whether to permit a parent to voluntarily terminate his or her rights, and obligations, to a child, and the court then must decide the best placement for the child.

    This procedure means that the bill seeking to permit discrimination based on religion does not authorize any parent, nor any adoption agency, to decide who can adopt a child – that decision is placed in the hands of a circuit court judge who must abide by SD statutes. The court is required by statute to make the decision based on the child’s best interests. SDCL 25-5A-15 provides:

    “Hearings shall be informal in nature and the best interest of the child shall be considered paramount.”

    Thus, any agency that limits the number of potential adoptive families by discriminating based on religion or sexual orientation would have to convince a judge that such discrimination is in the best interests of the child.

    In effect, this legislation seeks to create a shield for child placement agencies that, for religious reasons, block otherwise fully eligible and qualified families from being evaluated by the court to determine whether placement would be in the child’s best interest.

  22. mike from iowa 2017-03-07

    Joe- you can’t conceive? :)

  23. Joe Nelson 2017-03-07

    We can conceive! We are super fertile; baby 7 is due to be born sometime in August! But since we can make babies the old fashioned way, CFS won’t work with us!

  24. happy camper 2017-03-07

    I still think you’re not considering enough the perspective of the biological parents using these agencies. They are probably doing so because they want their child to be raised in an environment most in line with their own values.

    Maybe you should imagine having to give up a child and think of that perspective (not as BCB describes forcibly by the state, but some other circumstances.)

    What if you were religious, devout Catholic let’s say. Would you want your child to be raised by a Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim family? What if faith was important to you, and homosexuality was completely unacceptable to your value system.

    I can’t find that Native case, but it held up in court the child went back to his father after the adoption to white parents. That may have been because of a treaty, but brings up race and culture. Do you support that and makes me curious what Native posters think.

    Nothing is to say that just because the religious agencies are granted the right to screen, that they will do so in every case, does it? Maybe it would simply give the option to do so at the request of the biological parents. But if asked, is it ok for your child to go to an atheist or gay family, they may still be willing to make that placement. It seems you are assuming that immediately religious agencies will make mandates, which may not be the case. They may not be as rigid as you think, but you’re also being rigid by saying never.

  25. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-08

    Joe, the expansion we’re talking about is of a greater order of magnitude, not just in actual staff and funding but in mission. The public school system does not depend on most kids seeking services elsewhere. The public school system has a mandate to be ready to serve all kids at any moment. Does DSS have any such mandate?

    Prioritizing parents with fertility issues and excluding those who can still do it themselves? Is that in the best interest of children? Does that exclusion leave out older couples (relatively speaking, like past age 35) who can still conceive but don’t want to risk the age-increased health complications for mom and fetus?

  26. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-08

    Bear, thank for helping me out with the idea that the surrendering parent’s rights to dictate placement are not absolute. Those rights certainly aren’t non-existent, but certain conditions override.

    Hap, as a child given up, I do imagine those circumstances (occasionally, not dwellingly). Whoever provided my DNA surely had some belief system. I have no idea whether that belief system aligned with my parents’ belief system or the belief system I operate on now. Clearly that DNA provider’s claim to shape my belief system ended when Mom and Dad brought me home.

    If a biological parent wants to determine a child’s belief system, perhaps the biological parent should reconsider the decision to have someone else raise the child.

  27. happy camper 2017-03-08

    I wouldn’t thank BCB too much for giving you one exception. The thing is, you have to consider the people giving up the children. You don’t know their circumstances. It could be health, untimely demise, many possibilities, even if more commonly it is youthful indiscretion. Regardless, it doesn’t mean biological parents should give up all say to where their child goes. The family most of the time is probably very concerned with grandparents helping to make the best decision for everyone involved in a difficult and painful process.

    But as far as gay men go, they are highly promiscuous. People don’t like to say that cause it doesn’t sound nice, but go to any “dating” site” Adam4Adam, Grindr, Growl and you’ll see most of the time No Strings, Partnered But Play With Others. One of my older gay friends (about 70) adopted a gay youth. He was a physician sounds good and stable right, but in his younger days (40s) would stay out all night tramping it up and go to surgery with just a few minutes of sleep, then brag about his recklessness. He’s not the exception a high percentage of gay men have had hundreds even thousands of sex partners, which is not a very good setting for raising children.

    My point is, we categorize to make sense of the world, and sometimes you have to paint with a wide brush. You’ve always got your small brush for the exceptions. Even a paint sprayer is sometimes best you’ve got the 3 inch to work it in and smooth it out, then pull off the plastic and paint the trim, but you can’t paint the whole house with a 2-inch brush.

    You insist on painting everything with the smallest brush you can find. You’ve got to use them all as appropriate even the paint scraper.

    Your Gay Troll

  28. bearcreekbat 2017-03-08

    Actually, state law does not make “one exception” and state law does not recognize any rights relative to child placement for a parent that voluntarily terminates his or her parental rights. And no adoption can take place until the parental rights of the biological parents are terminated by a Circuit Court Judge. And no adoption can take place without the Circuit Court taking evidence and making appropriate findings.

    SDCL 25-6-13 requires the Court to take specific steps before it can issue any order of adoption, and none of the steps involve considering the terminated parent opinions or wishes:

    . . . The circuit judge must examine all persons appearing separately and if satisfied from such examination and the report of the investigation that the child is suitable for adoption and the petitioning foster parent or parents financially able and morally fit to have the care and training of such child, that all requirements of the law have been met and that interests of the child will be promoted by the adoption

    Note the lack of mention of religion, sexual preference, and the other matters that this proposed law seems to support discriminating against. Here is a reasonable summary of SD adoption laws:

    And I wonder if anyone has considered how this religious freedom bill might affect SD’s participation in, and obligations under, the 50 state Interstate Compact on Adoption. Has DSS’s Child Protection Agency weighed in on the bill?

    And as an aside, it is remarkable that happy apparently knows everything about every gay individual in the USA so he can speak authoritatively about what every gay male thinks, wants and does. I would think such a skill would be highly marketable (unless it is discovered that happy really doesn’t know these things but is projecting his own attitudes and behavior upon people he does not know).

  29. Joe Nelson 2017-03-08

    Cory, (sorry for late response, this is the first I have actually sat down at our computer)

    Joe, the expansion we’re talking about is of a greater order of magnitude, not just in actual staff and funding but in mission. The public school system does not depend on most kids seeking services elsewhere. The public school system has a mandate to be ready to serve all kids at any moment. Does DSS have any such mandate?

    Hard to find any mandates at all for DSS, but I dug and found the following:

    26-4-9.1. Adoption services program established–Rules adopted. The Department of Social Services shall establish a program of adoption services. The secretary of social services may adopt reasonable and necessary rules for the operation of the program of adoption services including:
    (1) Program administration;
    (2) Adoptive applications and placements;
    (3) Investigations and studies;
    (4) Qualifications for adoptive families;
    (5) Postadoptive services;
    (6) Protection of records and confidential information required by statutory law to be held confidential; and
    (7) Establishing reasonable fees consistent with the costs of such services.

    Where is the mandate that says public schools must be “ready to serve all kids at any moment”? I could not find that. And I still hold that the public schools would be unable to accommodate tomorrow, if all of a sudden they were flooded with 17147 more students. (2016 numbers). Could Aberdeen suddenly handle the influx of 721 more students tomorrow? An average of 55 more students per grade? Very unlikely. The public school system may not depend on kids seeking services elsewhere, but the State certainly isn’t providing the resources/money to accommodate every student in the state. Heck, they don’t even pay the teachers enough, let alone all the sob stories I read on Facebook of teachers having to buy the pencils, paper, and other various materials in order to teach their class. Could the public school system adapt? Of course, they would have to. Just like DSS would have to adapt if all the private adoption agencies closed.

    Prioritizing parents with fertility issues and excluding those who can still do it themselves? Is that in the best interest of children? Does that exclusion leave out older couples (relatively speaking, like past age 35) who can still conceive but don’t want to risk the age-increased health complications for mom and fetus?

    I think this is a case of CFS limiting its services so that families who cannot conceive naturally will have preference over those who can make babies the old fashioned way. Best interest of the children? I think it is more about helping out parents-to-be who would otherwise have no other means of having children. They also have an age restriction, but you would have to reach out to them to find out why: “Are at least 21 years of age and not over 45 at the time of application.”

  30. grudznick 2017-03-08

    Mr. camper, when did you become a gay troll?

  31. Joe Nelson 2017-03-08

    I believe society has decided that people are born gay trolls, instead of it being a lifestyle or identity choice.

  32. grudznick 2017-03-08

    But Mr. camper himself decided he was a curly-haired troll who fancies soft rock and malt beverages from blue bottles or soft drinks that don’t go well with fruit. These are almost all choices, and they are his to make.

    Born a troll? Can one be born a troll half a century before the invent of the internets? I will sleep restlessly tonight, with long-fingered shadowy figures flicking out from under my bed and poking under my door from the hall, and I am sure they are not the fingers of the attendants…

  33. Jenny 2017-03-09

    Is there any kind of a possibility these anti-gay adoption agencies could get state money if this passes?
    Tax dollars going to discrimination is wrong and unconstitutional in my opinion. And it is discrimination, don’t hide behind your religion saying it isn’t.

  34. Jenny 2017-03-09

    Oops, skip the pass part, I know it passed. I’m just wondering about dollars and any other kind of state benefits going to these anti-gay adoption agencies.

  35. Kristi 2017-03-09

    Depends on what legislator you ask, Jenny. Like I posted earlier, this weekend the Greenfields were pretty adamant that it doesn’t affect public dollars but Jason Frerichs disagreed. I’m not a lawyer but when I read the text of the bill (especially in section 6) it seems as if there’s a clear implication that there’s a strong possibility that public funds or benefits could still go to private agencies that use this to exclude prospective parents.

  36. Jenny 2017-03-09

    Joe Nelson says this is not a harmful discrimination. I guess the Courts will be deciding that.

  37. Roger Elgersma 2017-03-09

    Some want a teen to abort their kid without their parents knowing even though the parent is legally responsible for the teen. This is to make it easier to let the teen get rid of their kid. Why not let the teen feel more comfortable with giving their kid to adoption by letting them know what type of people will be raising their kid. If the biological mother wants their child raised with a certain type of values, they should be able to do that. This is part of what is done in open adoptions.

  38. happy camper 2017-03-09

    I feel strongly that the biological parents should have a say when giving up the children willingly, be it for or against gay parents or whatever the environment. That’s an act of caring that should not be taken away.

    One gay guy in talking about his marriage said he feels he’s back in the closet because everyone expects them to have a traditional marriage, so he just keeps quiet about their lack of monogamy. Dan Savage is an LGBT activist who said after adopting children they decided to be monogamish and accept infidelity was necessary for them to stay together as a family, so lets just be open and honest about this stuff so children get placed in the best situations.

    Last night I was talking to an older gay friend about this law. He’s against it, got a little hot even, but when I asked how many successful gay male relationships he knows, he said none. Then we talked about how even during the AIDS Crisis gay men had great difficulty curtailing their high number of sex partners and risky behaviors. So today they can just give that up and raise a child? He saw my point but said theoretically there are certainly some out there, and maybe being a parent would change that behavior, but it’s foolhardy to think that gay male couples are just like straight ones.

    I wish they had passed civil unions for gays which is more aligned to how the relationships actually work, and who knows, maybe many modern straight couples would start pursuing something similar. The traditional model is not working too well right now.

  39. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-09

    Hey, Hap! Maybe those parents with special religious demands for the placement of their child should take care of their adoptions privately rather than through agencies providing a service?

  40. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-09

    Joe, the mandate that the public schools be ready to serve every student who wants in is in the South Dakota Constitution, Article 8, Section 1:

    The stability of a republican form of government depending on the morality and intelligence of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature to establish and maintain a general and uniform system of public schools wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all; and to adopt all suitable means to secure to the people the advantages and opportunities of education.

  41. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-09

    If 721 students showed up in Aberdeen Monday, our school district could not turn any of them away. We would have an obligation to place every one of them in a classroom and start making them more moral, intelligent, and able to serve the republican (small r!) form of government. It would sure be nice if we could get some help from Roncalli and the Christian school, but those kids are our constitutional responsibility… in a way, I think, that has no parallel in the state’s establishment of its adoption services.

  42. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-09

    Kristi, you and Senator Frerichs appear to be reading SB 149 correctly. Section 2 gives examples of the kinds of “adverse actions” that the state may not take against child-placement agencies that engage in religious discrimination. Those adverse actions include “(3) Denying an application for, refusing to renew, or canceling any benefit from a state benefit program or other funding; (4) Declining to enter into, refusing to renew, or canceling a contract;… (8) Discriminating against an organization in regard to participation in a state benefit program;….” SB 149 clearly envisions that discriminating agencies are receiving state funding, benefits, and contracts that could be withdrawn in the status quo to punish religious discrimination.

  43. grudznick 2017-03-09

    It occurs to me that an initiated measure to amend that responsibility out of the constitution might gain some traction, and eliminate the whining for this one group of people forever. Or at least make it so we don’t have to listen to the gimme gimme arguments every year.

  44. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-09

    Roger E, your scenario justifying SB 149 envisions that a teenager considering an abortion would choose not to abort if only she knew her baby would be placed with a good Christian family. But wouldn’t that Christian concern mean that teenager wouldn’t be seeking an abortion in the first place?

    Furthermore, SB 149 doesn’t talk about the biological parents’ religious beliefs or moral convictions. What if a pregnant woman doesn’t want her baby ending up with a bunch of Bible-thumpers? Does SB 149 let the child-placement agency deny that woman the service she wants?

  45. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-09

    Again, Hap, I’d ask how many hetero couples are keeping their non-monogamy in the closet. Seems that’s been going on for generations.

  46. happy camper 2017-03-09

    Are these agencies receiving public money? If not, then what you call discrimination they MIGHT call good judgment. Or they might agree with you, you don’t know.

    An interesting notion would be an atheist not wanting his child or grandchild to be adopted by someone who believes in fairytales. We have no idea why someone gives up a child, but oftentimes I think it is done for the right reasons, not selfish ones.

  47. happy camper 2017-03-09

    I’m not arguing for traditional marriage. I’m saying that when an early pregnancy occurs, if not the mother, then her parents are probably worried sleepless both for the best interests of their child and their unborn grandchild, and to take away their right to choose what they think is the best option should not be up the state.

  48. Joe Nelson 2017-03-09


    I suppose constitutional mandate trumps SD Laws and Statutes, so no, there is not a equivalency of level of mandate. But DSS is still mandated, non-the-less, to provide for adoption in the state, including approving private agencies.

    As for parents with a religious preference, they have the option to work through a DSS approved private agency that will accommodate them. Heck, if it is a kid who wants to be in a Christian family, shouldn’t the child get a say in the matter? The system works, as it is, and thank goodness the bill passed. Private agencies, who are doing no harm to anyone, can continue to provide services to people who want them. But the door is open, and always has been open, for any secular, Muslim, Hindu, Wiccan, et cetera to open its doors as a private adoption agency. As long as they abide by the rules and procedures outlined by the state, more power too them. A Wiccan agency that will only work with Wiccans? Knock yourself out! I imagine that the market will adjust, and that if a need or want exists, then the businesses will arise.

    Until then, the majority-Christian population of South Dakota seems content to work with the majority-Christian private adoption agencies. And, just like a public school option, anyone is free to contact DSS directly.

  49. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-10

    Hap, agencies have the power to protect the interests you speak of without SB 149. Agencies can do a home study, evaluate the stability of the home, and place the child accordingly. They don’t need the power to make a blanket ban on homosexuals, Muslims, or Baptists.

    Hap, you may not be arguing for traditional marriage, but the people pushing SB 149 are. SB 149 is the next resort to backlashing against Obergefell.

  50. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-10

    Joe, yes, DSS has that legal mandate to provide adoption services, and they have a 14th Amendment obligation to provide those services without discrimination. But they have no mandate to satisfy the total demand for adoptions services.

    The money thing drives me nuts. If these private agencies aren’t getting state money, then they shouldn’t need SB 149. SB 149 depends on the state having some financial hammer it can use on these private agencies.

  51. happy camper 2017-03-10

    Yes, it’s true those behind this law probably have an agenda and would like to see same-sex marriage end. But I agree with Joe that the marketplace of ideas and beliefs should be allowed to shake itself out and it’s not right to interfere. As he says, any agency can have their way of doing business. I see this law as possibly even being positive so that children don’t have to be placed with superstitious right-wing Christian fools. Think of it in the other direction. Do you believe in ghosts? No baby. Do you believe in angels? No baby. Do you believe in intelligent design? No baby. As our society modernizes, there will be a demand for services in line with those beliefs. This may open the door for more flexible, secular agencies. Laws often have unitended consequences.

  52. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-03-12

    Applying the marketplace of ideas makes me a little nervous here. If I’m reading Joe and Hap correctly, the same thinking applied to 1950s Alabama would have been, “No need to mandate desegregated lunch counters. Society will modernize, and diner owners who discriminate will slowly lose business and have to accept black customers to stay afloat.” Or in Little Rock, perhaps, “No need to send the National Guard to ensure black children can enter those white schools. Let the white schools discriminate, and let the market respond by providing alternative services for black children and for white children whose parents disagree with discrimination.”

    Can you see why I’m uneasy with the suggestion that we should wait and let the market address discrimination that the Supreme Court has ruled is unconstitutional? If same-sex couples (and remember, they aren’t the only ones hit by SB 149, but they are the intended target) enjoy the same rights to marry as my wife and me, are they not entitled to the same opportunity to parent as my wife and me, and as 100% Christian couples?

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