I regularly hear from happy readers that the Madville Times provides them the comfort of knowing that they aren't alone harboring liberal thoughts in South Dakota. I thus have some sense of the value this news report may have for some of my minority friends across this state.
The ever attentive and well-read Displaced Plainsman notices a new Gallup poll that finds South Dakota has the seventh-highest percentage of gay residents. LK posts the numbers for all 50 states and notes that 4.4% of the South Dakota respondents identifies themselves as LGB or T. The national LGBT quotient was 3.5%. That ties us with Massachusetts and beats California and New York.
I don't know if 4.4% is enough to explain why South Dakota passed its 2006 gay marriage ban by the smallest margin of victory of any successful statewide ban. Gallup notes our oddity in the political-sexual landscape:
The states with proportionally larger LGBT populations generally have supportive LGBT legal climates. With the exception of South Dakota, all of the states that have LGBT populations of at least 4% have laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and allow same-sex couples to marry, enter into a civil union, or register as domestic partners. Of the 10 states with the lowest percentage of LGBT adults, only Iowa has such laws [Gary J. Gates and Frank Newport, "LGBT Percentage Highest in D.C., Lowest in North Dakota," Gallup State of the States, 2013.02.15].
But to really start the head-scratching, compare South Dakota with its neighbors:
Before we get too excited about these numbers, let's note that Gallup says the margin of error, even for states like our with smaller sample sizes, is smaller than ±2 percentage points. That range still means every state in the chart is technically statistically indistinguishably. That explanation is simpler than positing that some quiet cultural phenomenon, against all the evidence of conservative attitudes driving liberalism and difference out, is making South Dakota a minor mecca for LGBT folks compared to all of its low-gay neighbors.
But the drastic split between North Dakota and South Dakota still makes me wonder: could there be something setting South Dakota apart, making our fair state secretly more gay friendly than the neighbors we think are just like us?
Maybe the secret is that South Dakota draws the masochists.