New South Dakota Bill Aims To Remove As Many LGBTQ+ Rights As Possible

Lawmakers in South Dakota are trying to ban marriage equality, permanently legalize conversion therapy, criminalize trans healthcare, and more.

South Dakota is currently serving as a test case for a trio of extreme anti-LGBTQ+ bills. If passed, the bills would remove years of progress for the state’s queer and trans community, essentially eliminating LGBTQ+ rights.

The South Dakota House of Representatives already passed the first of the three bills, House Bill 1057, on Wednesday. The bill would make it a crime for doctors to provide trans-affirming healthcare to people under 18 years old. Doctors who don’t obey the new law could go to jail or face up to $2,000 in fines. The bill will go to a Senate committee as early as this week.

The second bill, Senate Bill 88, would require mental health providers to out kids experiencing gender dysphoria to their parents. It has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

The third bill, House Bill 1215, is unprecedented in its scope. The bill is so comprehensive that it aims to “erase LGBTQ people from public life,” says Kara Ingelhart, staff attorney at Lambda Legal. “It’s extreme,” Ingelhart tells NewNowNext.

HB 1215 would make marriage equality illegal, permanently legalize conversion therapy, forbid trans and non-binary people from changing the gender markers on their legal documents, and ban drag queen story hours. Moreover, the bill would block the passage of any LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections.

The bill brazenly contradicts the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized marriage equality nationwide.

“[HB 1215] is the kind of dangerous bill that threatens the integrity and dignity of LGBTQ people living in South Dakota,” Ingelhart says. “That sends a dangerous message to everybody.”

South Dakota has a history of being used as a testing ground for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. It was the first state to introduce an anti-trans bathroom law in 2016, barring trans kids from using the bathrooms and lockers of their choice. The law passed the House and Senate but was ultimately vetoed by the former Republican governor, Dennis Daugaard.

At least 25 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been proposed nationwide in 2020 already. LGBTQ+ organizers with the ACLU, HRC, and other advocacy groups are hard at work on campaigns to defeat the new bills.

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