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Deutsch Plans No Potty-Panic Bill for Noem—What Changed?

I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. If radical right-wing theocrat Fred Deutsch says he won’t use his triumphant return to the Legislature to push an anti-transgender potty bill, I should just say, “Thank you, Fred!” and let it be. I should be thrilled that I don’t have to waste the entire Legislative Session beating down (again) stereotypes and paranoia and outright lies about my transgender neighbors and can focus instead on the budgetnepotism, and crony corruption.

But something doesn’t ring right here in Deutsch’s denial of an opportunity for Kristi Noem to fulfill one of the key fundagelical promises on which she campaigned. An issue that Deutsch and his extremist colleagues saw as an urgent matter of child safety two years ago suddenly requires no Legislative attention:

Incoming Republican Rep. Fred Deutsch told The Associated Press this week that he doesn’t see the urgency under President Donald Trump. Deutsch said he proposed the bill in 2016 to push back against federal overreach during former President Barack Obama’s administration.

“I’ve not heard of anybody else that’s going to bring a bathroom bill. I hope not,” said Deutsch, who is coming back to the House after deciding not run for re-election in 2016 [“‘Bathroom Bill’ Sponsor Won’t Try Again During 2019 Session,” AP via Education Week, 2018.12.07].

I don’t recall in 2015 and 2016 hearing Deutsch and friends emphasize that the primary threat was federal overreach; they insisted that children were in peril of peeping pervs. In 2017 and 2018, Deutsch and the radical right didn’t cite the ascent of Trump as the reason they could hold off on potty-panic legislation; they said they’d wait until mean old veto-crank Daugaard would be replaced by someone more amenable to their fundie agenda and press a bill right away in 2019.

Now with the malleable fundie wingnut governor they wanted, Deutsch and the fundies change their story. They could get everything they want from Kristi Noem, but they’re backing off. What—did the Chamber of Commerce finally get through to the yahoos and convince them not to tank our tourism industry?

Please don’t change course, Fred. Please don’t take my complaint as a reason to throw that potty-panic bill in the hopper.

But dare I get my hopes up? Dare I think that maybe Noem’s weak win has the fundies scared that she has a weak mandate? Dare I think that maybe Noem is already looking at winning the 2022 election (because that is the only job Republicans hire her to do) and thinking, “I’ve got to defuse the Sutton advantage among the moderates; I’ve got to stay away from the hot button issues and follow the Daugaard path to a 70%+ win”?

Dare I think that Noem might be ready to back away from other radical right-wing priorities, like a total abortion ban, and just focus on the nuts and bolts of state government?


  1. Jenny 2018-12-07 17:51

    Oh trust me, Cory, one of those transgender obsessed right-wingers will try to squeeze one through. Don’t Believe The nicey-nice talk. These people are way to the right and noem is their Christian princess. I wouldn’t be surprised if Deutsch is typing a bill up right now

  2. Jenny 2018-12-07 17:54

    It will be a Kinder gentler bill.

  3. jake 2018-12-07 18:14

    I think you’re on to something, Cory, for sure. Why put the rodeo queen on parade over this? Do nothing, will become the trade of the GOP as they know the pedulum of history is about t come back at them. They can only hope that Democrats won’t have a lot of pent-up hatred and vindictiveness to unload on them. Georgia and Wisconsin are trying hard to leave the GOP in power even when the people vote the GOP out of it!

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-08 07:41

    But Jenny, Deutsch’s statements don’t seem very strategic. If he is typing up a bill, what would motivate him right now to say he’s not typing up a bill? It’s not like he needs to deter the opposition. LGBT advocates are already on alert, and they’re probably as skeptical as you of the SD Legislature’s good intentions, so they’ll stay on alert through Session. And even if there’s an army of a million ready to march on Pierre, what would Deutsch care? He has the votes, with a more radical House and Senate than the last time they voted and a Governor-Elect who has promised to sign the bill. If he has a bill, and if it can sail through more easily than the swift repeal of IM 22 in 2017, why say now something that will only become a lie in a month or so?

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-08 07:43

    Jake, I’m scratching my head. Either Noem doesn’t have the mandate and has campaign reasons for telling Deutsch to back off (although I may be contradicting myself to suggest that Noem feels like she’s weak among the public but can already exert such a strong hand on the Legislature), or Deutsch is admitting that pressing the advantage now and passing some grand omnibus “family values” bill to turn South Dakota into a complete Handmaid’s Tale theme park would deprive the fundie pols of their best fundraising pitch. If they win the culture war, they can’t keep raising money to fight the culture war.

  6. grudznick 2018-12-08 08:36

    grudznick can’t support potty bills but the insanest could do even worse things.

  7. Jason 2018-12-08 08:38


    Do you support boys showering with girls in school?

  8. Roger Cornelius 2018-12-08 09:07

    When was the last time DFP readers heard of boys showering with girls in this state or any other state in this country?
    If you have heard of any cases of this type, are they sanctioned by schools?

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-08 09:30

    Apparently Fred Deutsch isn’t worried about boys and girls showering together. He was just worried about federal overreach. The SDHSAA transgender policy remains in effect, thus (in Jason’s world) perpetuating the grave risk Jason is trying to fabricate into an argument. In Jason’s world, is Deutsch betraying our youth and their safety?

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-08 09:34

    Roger, the only time I’ve seen boys and girls showering together was in Starship Troopers and Battlestar Galactica. The brave soldiers in those movies had bigger things to worry about.

  11. Porter Lansing 2018-12-08 09:46

    ~ I have personally participated in boys and girls showering, together … in South Dakota. Lots of times. #SorryY’allMissedTheSeventies 💕

  12. Roger Cornelius 2018-12-08 09:48

    Cory, that’s the point, isn’t it?
    I haven’t seen Starship Troopers, but we all have better things to do.
    The way the Jason’s of this world behave it is as though they are hoping some act of perversion will happen.

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-08 10:19

    The Chamber is certainly trying to put a damper on Deutschiness. Here’s what David Owen said in Aberdeen Thursday:

    One challenge, Owen said, is that this type of legislation could affect revenue, as some groups have indicated tournament bids won’t be awarded to states that have laws that partially discriminate [Elisa Sand, “Sports Betting Could Be a Legislative Issue,” Aberdeen American News, 2018.12.07].

    I hate it when I have to let money talk, but, well, there you go. The free market is telling states not to act like bigots.

  14. grudznick 2018-12-08 10:33

    If they are teachers guess boys and girls could shower together in school. Kids probably shouldn’t shower at school at all. And pooping should always be done solo.

  15. Porter Lansing 2018-12-08 10:49

    @grudz … The girls were always in charge. Boys either got invited or they didn’t. I’m guessing you wouldn’t have been. Or sometimes boys had physical attributes they didn’t care to share a visual of or didn’t have the discipline to maintain status neutral. Or, grudzie, Jason, OS and Steve, maybe some boys would rather shower with boys. You know what I mean, huh? There’s nothing wrong with that and there’s nothing about the human body to be ashamed of. (I think the boys who weren’t invited are the ones that stayed in SD and post over on the “stick up your butt” blog.)

  16. Debbo 2018-12-08 16:20

    My guess would be this “If they win the culture war, they can’t keep raising money to fight the culture war,” as first choice, or economic pressure as second.

    Kids would probably be a lot safer showering together or with LBTG people than with straight males. The latter are, by an enormous margin, the biggest sex offenders in the USA. I’m talking a per capita number.

    I know some of you straight males get real upset by that but stats are clear and the numbers don’t lie. Don’t take it personally unless you’re a sex offender.

  17. happy camper 2018-12-08 16:46

    Maybe he has moderated himself without knowing it we are all influenced by society and culture in subconscious ways over time. Ann Landers looked back and was shocked by the advice she gave people years earlier it’s possible the hard right is getting desensitized and more comfortable now that gay marriage is legal and conversations about transgender are more open. Don’t dismiss how closed off and incredibly uncomfortable earlier generations were about anything sexual especially in our conservative state and how powerfully transformative free speech can be dislike him all you want but he brought the issues out into the light.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-09 13:38

    Hap, I have trouble believing a legislator moderates himself without knowing it. I doubt Deutsch’s beliefs have changed, but if they have, this isn’t just a personal change; this is a public reversal of stated policy intention. That doesn’t happen without some serious self-examination and examination by political allies.

  19. o 2018-12-09 18:25

    What I am not sure I understand about US is that Rep. Deutsch has said that he will not revive his bill that snowballed into a anti-transgender rallying point; he has given a reason that lets him speak to his GOP caucus; but and we want to beat him up and (get him and others) second guess that decision?

    Maybe schools – the entities really delight with this — are handing it appropriately, quietly and appropriately sans culture war?

    Maybe we ought to take Dr. Deutsch’s “yes” for an answer?

  20. Debbo 2018-12-09 21:29

    O, good comment. 👍 I’ll take you up on that.

  21. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-10 12:47

    Point well made, O, and worth emphasizing: schools are apparently handling the situation properly (although I can’t shake my suspicion: wouldn’t Deutsch only back off if he felt that the schools were shifting toward his preferred flavor of discrimination and Christian Sharia?).

    But what do we learn from this back-off that we can apply to future campaigns? If Deutsch’s only reason for backing off is the absence of a rational progressive from the White House (and that reason doesn’t explain why he was still agitating for revisiting the bill after Trump took office), what are we supposed to do to ensure transgender fairness: keep electing jerk Republicans as President?

    Under all we have on the flow, we may not conclude that Deutsch has had a change of values; it is more logical to conclude that he feels his anti-trans position is winning and that he doesn’t need legislation to promote it.

  22. happy camper 2018-12-10 13:36

    Christian Sharia is some pretty strong rhetoric. It’s a bit interesting that Deutsch grew up Jewish, his father was a Holocaust survivor, but he became interested in Catholicism in college. When he converted his father pretty much severed ties until his children were born. With probably a very conservative upbringing it tempts me to say it was just a change in fundamentalism. Just read we only have 250 Jews left in South Dakota. It could be the powers that be in the legislature asked him to drop it, or conversations with less conservative folks moved him every so slightly it’s pure speculation, but one thing remains critical open discussions of things previously taboo are essential. There’s probably more to the man worth knowing rather than just criticism but to understand the basis for their judgments.

  23. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-12-11 05:28

    Christian Sharia is no stronger rhetoric than what Fred Deutsch, Stace Nelson, and Al Novstrup use to peddle their theocracy. They want an America ruled by their interpretation of Christian Biblical principles. The electorate’s continuing embrace of these promises of Christian Sharia is alarming; it also calls into question why a candidate who succeeds by playing to and promoting that embrace would back away from one of the promises of that theocratic bent.

    I’m trying to understand the basis for Deutsch’s judgment. I’m pointing out why the basis he cites now does not align with the basis he cited previously. This public figure’s story is shifting, and it seems important that we know why.

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