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SD Democrats Apply Gorsuch/Biden Anti-Discrimination Policy to State Laws

The Gorsuch Court blew up the anti-LGBT efforts of Republican leaders last summer when it ruled that the plain text of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects homosexual and transgender workers from discrimination. The Biden Administration has followed up with an executive order directing federal agencies to get right with the Supreme Court’s ruling and restore the Obama Administration’s application of civil rights law to protect transgender rights.

Meanwhile, back in South Dakota, the only elected officials who give a true darn about civil rights, the Democratic Legislative caucus, would write those Gorsuch/Biden protections against discrimination into South Dakota law. Senate Bill 190 updates South Dakota’s human rights laws to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and identification as a Native American Two-Spirit as bases for complaints of unfair or discriminatory practices. SB 190 adds those protected classes to race, color, creed, religion, sex, ancestry, disability, and national origin as personal attributes that cannot be used against people in employment, housing, lending, education, public accommodations, or public services.

The Democratic caucus also proposes Senate Bill 166, which would add sexual orientation, gender identity, and Two-Spiritedness to South Dakota’s hate crime felony law. (Remember: under statute, workplace discrimination isn’t a hate crime; to incur that Class 6 felony charge, you have to bust someone up, bust up their property, or threaten to do that busting.)

Senate Judiciary hasn’t taken up SB 190 yet. The committee did hear SB 166 last Thursday, during which discussion Family Heritage Alliance chief Norman Woods warned that hate crime legislation creates a state list of thoughts we can’t have. The committee entertained and approved an amendment from Republican Senator Tim Johns adding disability, sex, and color to the protected classes under the hate crime law and adding language saying hate crimes may be based on actual or perceived characteristics of victims. The Johns amendment also includes a new requirement for South Dakota law enforcement agencies to record and report bias-motivated crimes and include training on bias-motivated crimes in the initial training for all cops and provide ongoing yearly training. With the bill running long and time running short, Senate Judiciary postponed further discussion and final action on the hate-crimes bill to this Thursday, February 18.

We thus have yet to see if any Republicans will get on board with the Democratic caucus on bringing our discrimination and hate crime laws into the 21st century of Gorsuch/Biden inclusivity.


  1. Lawrence Novotny 2021-02-17 19:19

    Sen. Johns moved the amendment but he did not propose it. The amendment by drafted by Sen. Foster to improve her bill after it was filed. Since Sen. Foster was pitching the bill at that moment, she could not move her own amendment, so Sen. Johns moved the amendment.

  2. Arlo Blundt 2021-02-17 23:00

    well…those folks have been around as long as I can remember…when I was a kid they were called ” bachelor farmers”, “confirmed bachelors”, “awkward men” “old maids”, “Old hens”, “mannish women”…I remember people saying mean or rude things about them, often in jest, but I don’t remember any overt cruelty to them or any talk that they should be deprived of a livelihood or position in life, That seemed to change in the 60’s with a rise in religious fervor and the television preachers trying to be provocative..”It takes all kinds” my folks used to say and that would be a good point of view for the legislature to take in this matter.

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