Bro-hug for Senator Craig Tieszen, speaking up for LGBT equality!

A rally for gay rights Friday night in downtown Rapid City included a speaker not often heard at such gatherings — a Republican lawmaker.

Sen. Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City, was one of several speakers at the rally for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights held at Main Street Square.

"There are many of us in the Legislature that are interested in making sure that the rights of all the citizens of South Dakota are protected," Tieszen told a crowd of about 60 [Joe O'Sullivan, "Gay Rights Rally Draws a Crowd -- and a Republican Lawmaker," Rapid City Journal, 2014.04.04].

Senator Tieszen ran interference for the effort to further suppress the Indian vote this winter, but his appearance at the gay-rights rally shows he's more open to a discussion of equality for all South Dakotans. Keep working on him, Rapid City voters!

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South Dakota Republicans like to holler about Democrats offering food for votes. How about hollering about one of their own offering beer for votes?

Annette Bosworth Facebook invitation to free beer, 2014.03.20

Annette Bosworth Facebook invitation to free beer, 2014.03.20

While her son performed in a school program in Sioux Falls, fake U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworth was buying drinks for voters in a Rapid City bar. Bosworth invited voters to a meet and greet and Murphy's Pub and Grill in Rapid City Thursday evening and said the beer was on her.

Remarkable that Bosworth kind find the money to buy beer for perfect strangers yet not find the cash to pay people who work for her.

In legal news, South Dakota Codified Law 12-26-15(6) declares it misdemeanor bribery "To pay, lend, contribute, or offer or promise to pay, lend, or contribute, any money or other valuable consideration, to or for any voter or to or for any other person, to sign any nominating, referendum, initiated measure, or initiated constitutional amendment petition." Bosworth's beer-buying didn't happen on the reservation, so Attorney General Marty Jackley should have jurisdiction if Bosworth had her credit card in one hand and her petition clipboard in the other. If Bosworth bought you a drink and you signed her petition, do please let us know.

In psychology news, Bosworth also made the weird assertion that our grandparents were all moonshiners. Annette, your psychologist would call that projection, a defense mechanism whereby you ascribe your own objectionable attributes (in this case, a family history of lawbreaking?) to others.

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So that's why Ron Sasso was Googling himself: he's running for office! The Rapid City counselor wants to be a city councilor again. Sasso says he filed his nominating petition yesterday to run for Ward 5 City Alderman, the seat he held for a term from 2011 to 2013. Sasso lost that seat to developer Bradley Estes; now Sasso is running for the other Ward 5 seat being vacated by Bonny Petersen. Sasso is running against education outreach coordinator Darla Drew.

I've given Sasso grief for peddling theocracy (o.k., Christian invocations at council meetings), but he's also peddling pedaling: his campaign announcement (see below) highlights his desire to make Rapid City more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly. It will be interesting to hear whether his debates with Drew will stay focused on practical quality-of-life questions or whether Sasso will slip into Christian soldiering.

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That Rapid City paper gives its readers reason to start looking for a new state Senator. In this morning's edition, reporter Daniel Simmons-Ritchie gets State Senator Phil Jensen to reveal the threat he poses to civil liberties, admitting that he'd be fine with government taking no action against racial or religious discrimination:

Jensen goes so far as to say that businesses should have the right to deny service based on a customer's race or religion – whether that's right or wrong, he says, can be fairly addressed by the free market, not the government.

"If someone was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and they were running a little bakery for instance, the majority of us would find it detestable that they refuse to serve blacks, and guess what? In a matter of weeks or so that business would shut down because no one is going to patronize them," he said [Daniel Simmons-Ritchie, "Phil Jensen: South Dakota's Most Conservative Lawmaker?" Rapid City Journal, 2014.03.16].

Jensen speaks from the privileged smugness of a man who's never been in the minority. This is the same privileged white male who thinks neither women nor Muslims are to be trusted.

Simmons-Ritchie also gets Sen. Jensen to laughingly admit his welfare-drug-test hypocrisy:

Jensen supported another bill this session, killed last month, that would have required drug testing for welfare recipients. He said he believes that taxpayers have a right to know that their money is being spent appropriately.

But asked whether he thinks recipients of other forms of government assistance should be drug tested, like farmers who receive subsidies, Jensen wasn't so sure.

"You got me there," he said with a laugh [Simmons-Ritchie, 2014.03.16].

Yes, Phil. Ho ho ho, I'm a racist. Ha ha ha, I don't think my policies through for political consistency. Hee hee hee, my rich white friends in suits would never do bad things with corporate welfare dollars.

With attitudes so smug, thoughtless, and racist that even the Republican spin machine can't stand Jensen, please tell me District 33 Democrats will find a candidate to spotlight Jensen's vileness and evict him from office. Jensen should be easy pickings for an ambitious, on-message Democrat. You go get Josie Weiland, Elle Fettig, and her friends, mobilize them to canvas District 33, and you take Jensen down with his own words. Get to work!

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Rapid City businessman John Tsitrian offers West River readers what could be Friday's most interesting house—or may I capitalize?—House party. The Republican blogger invites interested citizens to his humble Rapid City abode this Friday, March 14, 7 to 9 p.m. Tsitrian promises Greek and Armenian snacks and desserts, sparkling conversation, and Corinna Robinson.

Corinna Robinson. You know, that nice Rapid City Democrat who wants to take Republican Congresswoman Kristi Noem's job.

Why would a Republican host a House party for a Democrat? Tsitrian has made clear he thinks Kristi Noem is destroying his party with her failure to represent South Dakota interests in the government shutdown and the Farm Bill:

Though a Republican by registration and nature, I abhor the obstructionistic elements in my party, the ones that Noem has so clearly been representing, the ones that I believe could bring the GOP to ruin if allowed to take it over. I'm ready for a suitable replacement [John Tsitrian, "Corinna, Corinna, Where You Been So Long? I Ain't Had No Representin' Since You Been Gone," The Constant Commoner, 2014.02.04].

This House party has a cover charge: a check made out to Robinson's campaign (that's "Corinna for South Dakota"). Tsitrian says any amount is welcome.

Tsitrian would also appreciate an RSVP so he can whip up enough tzatziki for everyone (is that what I smell in Dawna's kitchen, John?). RSVP by e-mail: tsitrian (at) rap.midco.net.

Then come out Friday evening to 6144 Wildwood Drive, Rapid City, to meet John, Corinna, and quite likely a number of other interesting, intelligent, politically minded South Dakotans. Enjoy the evening... and since John will be too busy hosting to blog, send me your party pix!

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Lynne Hix DiSanto, GOP candidate, District 35 House

Lynne Hix DiSanto, GOP candidate, District 35 House

Speaking of women pretending to be conservatives, Gordon Howie spokesmodel Lynne Hix DiSanto is running for District 35 House. Since first gracing the pages of this blog, DiSanto has elevated her neckline but not her rhetoric. The modeling school scammer's platform consists, in its entirety, of the following priorities:

  • Limited government
  • Second Amendment as a constitutional right
  • No new taxes
  • Support term limits
  • Government spending within its means, no deficit spending
  • Hard work and personal responsibility

I wonder, why doesn't anyone lead off their campaign with a vow to uphold the First Amendment as a Constitutional right? Or the Fifth? Or the Thirteenth?

How does opposition to deficit spending distinguish any candidate in a state-level race in South Dakota, where deficit spending by law never happens?

And how does shouting "hard work and personal responsibility" serve as a voting issue? Are we to believe that DiSanto is running against someone who advocates laziness and irresponsibility?

But don't ask questions! Just look at her and all her hot Sturgis models! That page at DiSanto's Fierce Modeling got scrubbed in time for a family values political campaign, but DiSanto still advertises "promotional models" for the Sturgis rally.

Reality-TV attention to her scam-modeling school must not have been good for business; DiSanto has since branched into computer repair. (Hmm... a modeling company and computer repair... I'm sensing an opportunity to rebrand the whole Geek Squad concept....)

And as Annette Bosworth shows, when business isn't booming, you can always find money in politics. Run, Lynne, run! With the Bosworth campaign about to collapse, South Dakota will need another spokemodel to step into the void of vacuous political self-promotion.

*   *   *

I heard that all these modeling things are scams, are you?

Not every opportunity is a scam!  We work with men, women and children and have placed many people in ads, films, etc.  In most cases, people that refer to these types of things as a "scam" are people that have not been successful in modeling or acting, and need someone or something to blame for this.  If you are concerned that this is a scam, we prefer not to work with you.  Trust is essential to our relationship and our success as a team [Fierce Modeling Agency, FAQs, downloaded 2014.02.23].

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The human rights rally in Rapid City appears to drawn a good crowd to protest Senate Bill 128, the Legislature's latest assault on civil rights. My on-the-scene observers play the conservatives, estimating that about 150 people came to Main Street Square to defend equality for citizens of all sexual orientations; the Rapid City Journal says about 200KOTA TV says "hundreds" attended:

"We're tired of things like this happening in South Dakota and no one was fighting back," said President of Black Hills State University Gay-Straight Alliance, Joseph Geyer. "And we decided that it was our time to finally fight back."

SB128 aims to protect businesses and individuals regarding free speech. If passed, it would allow the refusal of services to individuals or couples based on sexual orientation.

But some say that's unconstitutional and unfair.

"How do you tell when someone is of a different sexual orientation?" asked onlooker Kameron Ward [Joe McHale, "Equal Rights Rally Held in Rapid City," KOTA TV, 2014.02.17].

The Legislature's yahoolery may be galvanizing ongoing activism to defend equality in South Dakota:

David Patton, board president of the Black Hills Center for Equality, announced at the rally that a town hall meeting on equal rights in South Dakota will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 13 at the Moose Lodge at 841 E. St. Patrick St. in Rapid City.

"The time has come for us to move forward for full equality," Patton told the crowd [Joe O'Sullivan, "Hundreds Show up for Equal Rights Rally in Downtown Rapid City," Rapid City Journal, 2014.02.17].

One protester at the rally held a sign saying that her baby would be born in South Dakota this year and that she wants a better South Dakota for her child. Could that sentiment motivate a grassroots backlash that will outlast SB 128 and bring not just GLBT activists but young people in general into action to fight for equality and progressive values in the November election?

The Senate Judiciary Committee is hearing SB 128 this morning. Stay tuned.

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Rapid City Stevens student Josie Weiland has raised a public ruckus about her legislators' shockingly specious and retrograde attitudes toward civil rights for all committed married people. Now she and fellow Raider Elle Fettig are taking their support for spouses of all stripes to the streets.

Weiland and Fettig are organizing a human rights rally tomorrow (Monday) evening, 5:30 p.m., at Main Street Square in Rapid City (which is no easy town in which to love the way you wish). Young people, members of the LGBT community, and local business owners will speak for equality and against Senate Bill 128, which would allow businesses to refuse to serve or even hire anyone who doesn't conform to their code of sexual ethics. (Remember, SB 128 would allow a gay boss to fire employees for acting too straight, and that's not cool, either.)

Weiland's Senator Phil Jensen (R-33/Rapid City) brought SB 128 forward. Weiland invited Senator Jensen to attend the rally to speak to the merits of the bill, but one public confrontation was all his fearful bigotry could take.

Senator Jensen and fellow Black Hills gaybashers Rep. Lance Russell (R-30/Hot Springs) and Rep. Blaine Campbell (R-35/Rapid City) have thrown another civil rights stink bomb into the hopper. In House Bill 1251, these legislators pretend that they are the Supreme Court, rule that the federal government has no authority to protect citizens from religious discrimination, and authorize the same marketplace discrimination sought by SB 128. Rallygoers, take note and challenge both SB 128 and HB 1251.

SB 128 gets its first hearing before Senate Judiciary on Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. Rapid City members of that committee are Senators Mark Kirkeby and Craig Tieszen. HB 1251 gets its first hearing before House State Affairs on Wednesday at (surprise!) 3:30 p.m. Rapid City members of that committee are Reps. Kristin Conzet, Brian Gosch, and David Lust. Josie, Elle, make some phone calls, speak loudly and proudly at Monday's rally, and see if you can get through to legislators with a clearer sense of equality and justice for all.

Related: Legislators in Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Ohio, and Oklahoma are spewing similar anti-civil rights bile in their state legislatures. In Kansas, the Republican Senate President put a stop to it:

But the top Republican in the state Senate put a quick stop to the bill’s momentum, declaring that a majority of GOP lawmakers in that chamber don’t support it.

“A strong majority of my members support laws that define traditional marriage,” Senate President Susan Wagle said. “However, my members also don’t condone discrimination” [David A. Lieb, David Crary, and Rachel Zoll, "Gay Marriage Foes Scrambling at State Level After Setbacks," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.02.16]

Keep shouting, Josie and Elle. Even some Republicans will listen.

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