It’s easy for South Dakota legislators to bully LGBT South Dakotans with discriminatory legislation as a ploy to fire up their right-wing base when there are no LGBT legislators. The Hill notes that Kameron Nelson, Democratic candidate for District 10 House, wants to change that, so the discussion about LGBT policy isn’t about them but us:
In [Alaska and] three other states – Louisiana, Mississippi and South Dakota – LGBTQ+ representation is missing from the state legislature. This year alone, lawmakers in each of those states introduced no less than three bills that would restrict how LGBTQ+ people access health care, play sports or talk about their identity at school or the workplace, according to Freedom for All Americans, which tracks such legislation.
Some of those bills, including measures in Louisiana and South Dakota barring transgender women and girls from playing on female sports teams, have already become law.
“Unfortunately, that’s not going to change until we have representation,” Kameron Nelson, an openly gay man running for a seat in the South Dakota House, told Changing America.
Nelson, 32, a Democrat and South Dakota native, said conservative elected officials in the state have for years been embracing anti-LGBTQ+ policies as a way to ignite their base.
“When you just reduce people to a talking point, then you completely do a disservice to them as a human being,” he said. “These are real folks who are really hurting” [Brooke Migdon, “In Four States, LGBTQ+ Representation Is Missing from the Legislature. That Could Change Come November,” The Hill, 2022.09.02].
Inclusivity suffuses the three main points of Nelson’s vision for the state. Under “Purpose”, Nelson speaks of his commitment to democracy, which means “every resident feels empowered to be an active, engaged, and valued citizen….” Under “Opportunity”, Nelson refers to good wages, healthcare, and education “for all South Dakotans.” Under “Belonging”, Nelson vows to “protect South Dakotans from all forms of discrimination” and make South Dakota a place where our youth”—not just the ones playing cowboy with Kristi Noem, not just the ones bullying the kids who are different, but all of the youth—”will choose to build their lives for generations to come.”
Democracy depends on having Representatives who represent all South Dakotans. Sending Kameron Nelson to the Legislature for District 10 is a step toward that more perfect representation.