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Noem Family Priorities: Ban Abortion, Attack Gay Marriage, Deregulate Daycares

Kristi Noem and her family in their white angel clothes, assuring us that Jesus sent them to use government to make all of our families as pure as theirs.
Kristi Noem and her family in their white angel clothes, assuring us that Jesus sent them to use government to make all of our families as pure as theirs.

Yesterday Republican gubernatorial candidate Kristi Noem released her “Family-First Initiative,” in which she promises to be a “family-first” governor and “strengthen the family unit and preserve the values South Dakota has long embraced.”

“Family-First” starts with the Handmaid’s Tale approach to reproductive rights. The first specific policy she mentions is “a full abortion ban.” A Governor Noem would never sign such a ban, because then what would her base have left to vote on? Instead of answering every policy question by shouting We love babies! More babies!, Noem voters would have to crack the books and study regressive taxes, road construction, voting rights, and other practical policy issues that, in contrast to their usual litmus-test bleatings, affect the quality of life of every South Dakotan every day.

Noem gets so excited talking about abortion that she forgets her critique of Marty Jackley’s alleged expansion of government and promises to expand government. She’ll create a whole new position in the Governor’s office, an “Unborn Person Advocate” to “monitor, report, and recommend legislative and policy changes.” (What, you can’t just read Gordon Howie’s blog for that?)

Then comes theocracy, with Noem promising special government protection for the “special, God-given union between one man and one woman.” Noem offers no specific policy on how she will undrop the gavel with which the Supreme Court annulled South Dakota’s unconstitutional prohibition on same-sex marriage (i.e., “attempted to silence those of us who believe in traditional marriage”—hey, Kristi, I missed the part of Obergefell that ordered you not to talk about your perceived moral superiority), but her words are surely soothing to the declining Christian majority.

In other governing for Jesus, Noem promises to “partner with faith-based groups” to “expand proselytiz—” oops! that’s, “expand pro-family education opportunities and bonding experiences in our prisons and jails” for incarcerated parents. Why faith-based groups specifically? Why not all non-profits?

Noem does get practical, talking about working with our universities and tech schools to “offer options for more flexible course loads” (um, don’t we already have that?). She offers to expand (there’s that liberal word again) residential and family-based drug treatment options and family education programs.

But as so often happens with our Republican candidates, much of the “initiative” is fluff about continuing the status quo and keeping government from doing things that parents ought to be doing. Kristi, as a frequent manager of classrooms, let me remind you that most public officials and employees really have no desire to usurp the role of parents; in K-12 education, at least, we’re filling gaps left by parents scrambling to piece together multiple paychecks to make rent. The only nods toward improving the wages and financial situation of South Dakota families are the flexible course hours suggestion, a wave of the magic conservative wand at the idea that cutting licensing and regulation of daycares will make child care cheaper (yes, because why bother regulating daycares?), and a promise to get tough on what she says are “far too many cases of noncustodial parents avoiding child support measures” (uh oh, risking the angry dad vote!)

Ban abortion, deride alternative family structures, and deregulate daycare—such is the meaning of “family” for Republicans like Kristi Noem. Somehow, I don’t think Noem’s Family-First Initiative is really putting my family first.


  1. jimmy james 2018-05-15 09:05

    Noem says we need to… “Protect religious liberty and traditional marriage.”

    OK, Kristi. Why don’t you worry about your own kids and your own family instead of mine? Why don’t you spend your time fighting abuse and neglect and stop imposing on families that don’t look exactly like yours?

    Liberty? That’s liberty.

  2. jimmy james 2018-05-15 09:23

    Is it only me or is hearing this talk of “traditional marriage” and family values from the sponsors of Donald Trump and Roy Moore kind of cause you to…. throw up in your mouth just a bit?

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-05-15 10:53

    Everybody is an American entitled to equal rights, whether he or she is married or not, has kids or not, like guys or likes girls or likes ’em both. America is not just for white-clad Christian heterosexuals who conform to Kristi’s norm.

  4. mike fom iowa 2018-05-15 11:21

    Religious freedumb is wingnut code for legal discrimination against non-white, non -kristians of the wingnut ilk.

  5. Porter Lansing 2018-05-15 11:33

    Remember this one from Lloyd Bentsen (D) to Dan Quayle (R)? “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy”
    ~ Rep. Noem. We know America. We grew up and work in America. “Representative, your South Dakota is not America.”

  6. Jason 2018-05-15 12:23


    Marriage isn’t a right. It shouldn’t even have to be licensed. Government wasn’t involved until the early 1900’s and it should have stayed that way.

  7. Donald Pay 2018-05-15 12:45

    Time for a little clarification. How does an “Unborn Person Advocate” even exist? It’s unborn. Does she mean an “Advocate for the Unborn?”

    I think having someone in a position who could advocate for measures to improve fetal and childhood health would be a good thing. I might house that position in the Department of Health, but with a portfolio to address issues in other departments. Many of South Dakota’s environmental standards (mostly copied from EPA) are based on adult health studies and statistics, and might not be strict enough to adequately protect children. The Advocate could look into and prioritize upgraded standards for water and air pollution. An advocate for the unborn also might focus on ways to provide better pre-natal care, which expanded Medicaid coverage might provide.

    The person or persons could look into better ways to educate new moms and dads in child development, and in child discipline.

    There are many things that a real advocate in this area could do, but using taxpayers’ money to fund a useless position as a sop to an interest group is bad government.

  8. Debbo 2018-05-15 15:49

    Red meat with no intention to actually follow through. Gets so tiresome, yet the wRong keeps falling for it. That’s exactly why GOP likes “low info” voters and poor public education.

    Trumpian and very UNconservative: government in the middle of your family, your pregnancies, but ignoring them once they’re born. Yup. Today’s GOP stands for nothing but greed and finding ways (Russia) to steal elections so they can continue to feed that endless greed.

    Porter, great comment.

  9. Roger Cornelius 2018-05-15 17:00

    Does Noem that republican women and their daughters have abortions, is that who she is playing to?

  10. Bucko Bear 2018-05-15 21:38

    You still can’t insure a zygote.

  11. Jason 2018-05-15 21:49

    Why would you want to insure an unborn baby Bucko?

    That seems like a very stupid idea.

    In fact, it’s really stupid to buy life insurance for any child that has been born. It’s a waste of money.

  12. Nick Nemec 2018-05-16 06:49

    Noem is actually attacking my family when she blathers on about instituting special government protections for the “special, God-given union between one man and one woman.” What does that even mean? How does preventing my gay daughter from getting married protect the marriage I have with her mother? Does Noem think my daughter being prohibited from finding happiness makes the world or more specifically South Dakota a better place? Can Noem or anyone else point to instances where same sex marriage has caused problems?

    I’ll quote Noem’s own words from her TV ad when describing her attitude toward allowing my daughter to get married, “The heavy hand of government coming down and limiting opportunities”.

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-05-16 07:24

    Jason, review my past writing on marriage equality, and I believe you’ll find multiple times where I’ve said the government could provide the best equality by getting out of the marriage license business. The government’s involvement in marriage only gives theocrats and ideologues like Kristi Noem the opportunity to attack good people like Nick Nemec’s family and ignore the real threats to family integrity like low wages and systemic discrimination.

  14. Craig 2018-05-16 09:48

    Kristi can claim she is interested in a total abortion ban, but why hasn’t she introduced legislation on the federal level to make that a reality? Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the Presidency. If there was ever a time to propose an abortion ban now would be the time, but yet all we hear are crickets?

    We know why. Because if abortion was really banned and if that ban was upheld by the Supreme Court, then Republicans like Kristi would have nothing to campaign for in each and every election cycle. They won’t admit it publicly but the last thing the GOP wants is an abortion ban. They don’t care about “protecting lives” and they don’t care about abortion. All they care about is preserving their number one campaign issue which is used as a fundraising tool and a way to plead to the large amount of single-issue voters that come out each and every election cycle to support the candidates who claim they “cherish life”.

    An educated public wouldn’t fall for the games – which explains why the GOP continues to underfund education decade after decade and why they continually attack higher education by calling those in academia or those with Masters Degrees or Doctorates as being “elitist” while claiming higher education is merely designed to indoctrinate our children.

    It is not exactly a shock that South Dakota is so far behind the curve in almost every meaningful metric aside from the number of cattle per capita. We continue to elect the same people and as such we continue to experience the same results.

  15. Porter Lansing 2018-05-16 11:39

    Agreed, Craig. If Roe v Wade is repealed the Dems would take over the legislature in South Dakota. If Dems couldn’t be labeled as baby killers their skill and cunning would be unstoppable.

  16. Ryan 2018-05-16 12:22

    Jason, do you have any children?

  17. Porter Lansing 2018-05-16 12:56

    What you mean, Ryan is does the person known as Jason have any children. (This should be good.) lol

  18. Ryan 2018-05-16 13:06


    An anonymous commenter like myself, who plays many different roles depending on the audience, won’t begrudge another commenter anonymity or a made-up name.

    I believe you have information about some people commenting on here not being who they say they are. What is your goal with teasing that information repeatedly? To silence them? To out them? Something else?

  19. Porter Lansing 2018-05-16 13:52

    Ryan … Why do you play many different roles? Aren’t you happy with yourself?

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-05-16 13:57

    Craig gets it: Kristi has no intention of banning all abortions. She plans to keep the issue alive forever so her voters don’t get confused and start thinking about all the other GOP policies that are hurting their families’ finances.

  21. Debbo 2018-05-16 14:33

    Yup. Exactly what Craig said, including the education aspect. The greed and power moves masquerading as conservatism today required a poorly educated population.

  22. Debbo 2018-05-16 14:34

    AND collusion/conspiring with foreign despots.

  23. o 2018-05-16 15:42

    Cory, was it that level of cynical politics that lead former Governor Rounds to veto an abortion restriction/prohibition bill that the legislature passed while he was in office. That veto did not seem very “pro-life.”

  24. mike fom iowa 2018-05-16 16:47

    You might be giving Noem way too much credit. The sheeple that continue to vote for wingnuts in South Dakota don’t seem to research the issues at all and just vote for the brand- R for status quo and harbor the belief that Dems are godless commies and want to socialize everything.

  25. scott 2018-05-16 20:05

    if kristi cares so much for family, why did she leave them behind for the last years?

  26. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-05-17 13:31

    O, I can’t help wondering if you’re right. A generous explanation could be that Rounds did not anticipate that such a law would withstand scrutiny by the Supreme Court as composed at the time. We could test that by electing Kristi or Marty (but wait, why? it’s not worth it!) and seeing if either would sign an identical or worse bill to send to the Roberts-Gorsuch Court for approval.

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