South Dakotans acted quickly to rally against a previous bill, SB67, this legislative session that would have allowed wedding-related businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples. That bill was killed in committee. But the extreme right wing that holds a lot of sway in South Dakota isn’t done yet - they’ve introduced SB128, a bill that makes it legal to discriminate against LGBT people in businesses, and in employment.
Under the guise of protecting the “free speech” of its religious citizens, the bill makes it illegal to sue over discrimation:
Section 2. No person or entity may bring suit against a business for refusing to serve a person or couple based on sexual orientation. The Legislature finds that businesses are private and that their views on sexual orientation are protected to the same extent as the views of private citizens.
If a person or persons do bring a lawsuit for this purpose, judges are required to rule the lawsuit frivolous and make the plaintiffs pay court costs. The bill also purposefully, directly, contravenes federal anti-discrimination laws:
The Legislature finds that any federal recognition of any specific sexual orientation as a protected class does not apply in South Dakota and may not be enforced within the geographical boundaries of South Dakota.
As a queer citizen of South Dakota, this bill, if passed into law, would deliberately strip me of constitutionally protected rights and remove any and all recourse I may have had. The bill is so wide that any business make take advantage of it, and with legal recourse denied us, there is no proper system for judges to determine what the bill means in legal precedent.
Real world scenario: if my pharmacy discovers I’m queer and the head pharmacist doesn’t like that, they can refuse to fill my necessary prescriptions.
If I get rejected for a job because my employer discovers my queer identity, in South Dakota, I would have zero recourse.
If I sue a business for discriminatory policies, I would be required to pay court costs and would have zero chance of having my case heard.
Please sign this petition. Please tell South Dakota that we will not tolerate legalized discrimination against a vulnerable population.