House State Affairs approved Senate Bill 46 today on an 11–2 vote. SB 46 is Governor Kristi Noem’s unconstitutional bill seeking to distract us from her stunning failure to govern and ban transgender kids from school sports.
But never mind unconstitutional; in testimony supporting SB 46 today, Noem’s out-of-state legal hack Mark Miller unconscionably likened transgender people to terrorists:
Following public testimony in the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Mark Miller, interim chief of staff and legal counsel to Noem, told lawmakers that even though the state has seen only one transgender girl perform during the last decade, the goal of the measure is preventative.
“It’s sort of like terrorism,” Miller said. “You see it over there, and don’t want it to get to here” [Christopher Vondracek, “Noem’s Lawyer Compares Transgender Sports Participation to Terrorism,” Worthington Globe, 2022.01.26].
Miller’s statement exceeds the constant bullying to which the Governor and Republican legislators subject transgender South Dakotans. Miller here takes the same dangerous tack as Donald Trump and the Big Liars: not simply lying, but casting their fabricated threat as something so dangerous that it may warrant radical, even violent responses. Where’s Trump’s Big Lie about election fraud makes redneck voters think they may storm the Capitol, hang Mike Pence, and overturn an election and the Constitution, Miller’s big lie makes certain South Dakotans think it’s o.k. to treat transgender kids as terrorists.
If transgender kids playing basketball are sort of like terrorism, Mr. Miller, then do you propose that our response should be sort of like Guantánamo? Round up the transgender kids, ship them off to reëducation camps, protect us from their terrorism and torture them to give up their evil ways?
We have Republican legislators and candidates for public office in South Dakota making excuses for genuine terrorists who attacked police and democracy on January 6, 2021, but those Republicans and their Governor will countenance the claim that transgender kids playing basketball post a terrorist threat that we must keep out of South Dakota.
Words matter. As a lawyer, Mr. Miller has made a career of choosing words that matter. His statement to House State Affairs this morning was no slip. The Noem Administration wants to fuel the fire of transgender hate. Miller and Noem want South Dakotans to think it is o.k. to do far more than bully transgender kids. Miller and Noem want transgender people to feel such oppression and terror in South Dakota that they decide they cannot live comfortably or freely here and just go away.
Who are the real terrorists? It’s not transgender kids trying to play basketball.