Press "Enter" to skip to content

Kaiser Explanation of Anti-Gay Amendment Makes No Sense

Last updated on 2016.08.28

I have read with interest the argument between Aberdeen city councilman Mark Remily and Aberdeen policeman and State Representative Dan Kaiser. Remily says Kaiser supports excluding homosexual partners from protection under South Dakota's domestic abuse statutes. Kaiser says that's a lie, an "emotional response to a 'hot button' phrase." Aberdeen's Ken Santema offers some reasonable background on the confusion surrounding the domestic abuse bill and Kaiser's opposite-sex amendment. Blogger Pat Powers calls Remily's accusations "doltish" and politically motivated, accuses Remily of creating a hostile work environment for his policeman, and demands an apology for having "conveniently ignored facts."

What are the facts?

Remily points to this year's Senate Bill 147, which sought to clarify the definition of "family or household members." Neither existing statute nor the original text of SB 147 said anything about same-sex or opposite-sex partners. Rep. Kaiser sponsored the original bill, largely because it would have removed the line applying domestic abuse statutes to "persons who have lived together." That seems reasonable: if you and an old college roommate get in a fistfight, you should be charged with disorderly conduct or assault, not domestic abuse.

But then in the House on February 27, Rep. Kaiser did indeed propose an amendment to exclude same-sex couples from domestic abuse protection. Kaiser and most of his GOP colleagues voted for that amendment and the resultingly anti-homosexual bill (notable exceptions: arch-conservative stingster sweethearts Jenna Haggar and Isaac Latterell).

Remily says Kaiser's amendment shows that he believes "that if you're gay or lesbian you have no right to be protected by law enforcement." Kaiser says "I want all people to have protection under the law." He explains his anti-gay amendment as a procedural move:

I sponsored this bill because in its original fair state it removed the wording “people who have lived together” and replaced it with “people in an intimate relationship.” When the bill went to the Senate, they removed the new wording of the bill and put in the old wording, which would again require law enforcement to arrest former roommates.

Kaiser gets the Senate amendment wrong. Read the original SB 147 alongside the Senate version carefully. The Senate amendment did not insert any old wording that would have required law enforcement to arrest roommates. The Senate amendment only removed "foster parent and foster child" from the definition of family or household members. That amendment may be problematic for other reasons, but it has nothing to do with Kaiser's expressed concern.

Kaiser then offers a procedural defense of his anti-gay amendment:

When the bill came to the House, I tried to pass an amendment to restore the bill to its original fair state. My amendment failed. I knew if I did pass an amendment, the bill would have to go to conference committee and be voted on again, so in order to protect roommates from arrest, I added the amendment to change the wording to opposite sex. It passed [Rep. Dan Kaiser, letter to the editor, Aberdeen American News, 2013.06.24].

Kaiser also gets procedure wrong. When the bill came to the House, it carried an amendment from House Judiciary that removed the language about dating relationships and added language that might have sparked Kaiser's roommate prosecution concerns. The bill that came to the House floor was already different from the version passed by the Senate. SB 147 would have gone to conference committee without Kaiser's anti-gay amendment.

Kaiser's amendment may well have been a poison pill, intended to "cause problems." However, Kaiser testified to the conference committee in March and said "homosexuals deserve the protections everybody does."

But Representative Kaiser's response to Councilman Remily's attack doesn't hold water. The House Judiciary amendment, not the Senate's, created the problem Kaiser cites. And that House Judiciary amendment made the Kaiser amendment unnecessary for the procedural purpose he claims. If Remily is looking just at that amendment and the on-record legislative context of Senate Bill 147, he can't be blamed for viewing the Kaiser amendment as gratuitous gay-bashing.


  1. David Montgomery 2013.06.27

    In the House-Senate conference committee, Kaiser ultimately supported a compromise that would have protected same-sex couples:

    “We wanted to narrow that scope of household to an actual relationship,” said Kaiser. “Quite frankly homosexual relationships wouldn’t be covered, and I feel they’re domestic relationships, when they get assaulted and beat up, they deserve the protections everybody does.”

  2. Ken Santema 2013.06.27

    I think Dan's big mistake was the method he chose to poison the bill. While effective, it had the potential to create back-lash in the future (the future has arrived). At the very least he maybe should have gone on record saying why he offered the amendment. Of course that may have caused other issues as well. Either way I think it is bad this bill did not pass in its originally intended form. Maybe during the 2014 it will pass.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.06.27

    Ken, did Kaiser choose this poison pill because he suspected it would get support from his conservative colleagues more easily than other procedural moves? And why did he introduce it when it was unnecessary?

  4. Ken Santema 2013.06.27

    I think that he made a calculated attempt to poison the bill. Since South Dakota had voted marriage is between a man in woman in 2006 I believe Dan thought his poison amendment would pass the House.

    I'm not sure if it was necessary or not. I don't know enough about the reconciliation process to know if he could have testified against it successfully at that time without the poison. Before moving back to SD i followed MN legislative actions a lot. Surprisingly there are a lot of differences between the SD and MN legislative procedures.

    I do however think Remily attacking Kaiser based upon one line in a newspaper article showed he is unwilling to actually research the topic he is attacking a fellow politician on. To me it almost looks like Remily is beginning the process to run against Kaiser next time.

  5. Rick 2013.06.27

    It was gay-baiting, purely and simply. Kaiser can't unring the bell. He crafted the anti-gay amendment. He proposed the anti-gay amendment. He voted to pass his anti-gay amendment. Several days later he chose to cover his tracks with a paper thin excuse.

    Senate Bill 147 was a very high profile bill. It had a serious coalition backing it. Kaiser chose it to rally the extremist base of his party with his anti-gay amendment to get attention for himself. He succeeded, and I hope Mark Remily gives him his justly earned reward.

  6. Bree S. 2013.06.27

    You're ridiculous, Rick. My eyes glaze over reading your constantly over-the-top statements.

  7. Ken Santema 2013.06.27

    I think there is more that happened behind the scenes than the artifacts on South Dakota legislative website shows.

    I just listened to the audio file for the day Kaisers amendment was added.

    Kaiser proposes the amendment at 74 minutes, with only a few words to support it.

    At 75 minutes Rep Soli (D-15) provides the only remarks against the bill on grounds it is unfair to gay couples. She actually did it pretty well and stayed to the point (only took 90 seconds.)

    The amendment then went to a voice vote. The speaker said the Aye's have it (it actually sounded close to me, but that could be due to where the mic is).

    Then in the actual vote Rep Soli voted for the bill as amended. Does that mean Soli supported the bill even with the bad amendment? Or does it mean something was happening behind the scenes?

  8. Ken Santema 2013.06.27

    It is also worth mentioning Remily in his "research" didn't mention the other District 3 Representative, David Novstrup, voted Yea to the bill as amended. Novstrup was also a sponsor of the original bill. Remily did not call out Novstrup for "this hateful position by a person supposedly representing the people of District 3". That is because this was an opportunity to attack Dan personally, it had nothing to do with Remily pretending to be for gay rights.

  9. Rick 2013.06.27

    Voting records are voting records. It's in there. I'm not buying Kaiser's revised history and I'm not buying the revisionism here either.

    Compared to the treatment I saw Remily get on that other blog, egged along by Ken, my comments here are extremely mild. I've sat through many legislative sessions and you don't accidentally make an amendment like this, especially on the heels of the 2012 election when gay-baiting and attacks on same-sex relations was a GOP trademark, and fail to realize it as an attack on one class of American citizens.

  10. Ken Santema 2013.06.27

    I think you need to put things in perspective. I write an openly libertarian blog. My coming to the defense of a libertarian-leaning politician is hardly unexpected. My making over-the-top statements would also hardly be unexpected.

    Mr Remily is an elected City Councilman for the City of Aberdeen. He signed his letter in the paper as "Mark Remily" "Aberdeen City Council". He published this letter speaking as a council member. A unique portion of this situation is that Dan Kaiser works for the Aberdeen Police Force. The Aberdeen Police Force is under the jurisdiction of the Aberdeen City Council.

    Any statements by Remily in an official capacity as "City Council" have to be made from that perspective. I expect my elected officials to do a little more research than reading one line in a newspaper article. This is especially true since that person being attacked happens to work for a government agency the attacker has oversight of. Cory has mentioned how a certain doctor in SD has come close to crossing FEC rules, I wonder if this comes close to crossing any relevant government employer laws.

    I would also research the SD GOP a little more if I were you Rick. Rep Kaiser did NOT get very good treatment from the SD GOP in the 2013 session. In fact there are more than a few in the SD GOP that would love individual thinkers like Kaiser to go away so they can pass crony capitalistic bills without a "professional dissenter" in their ranks.

  11. Rick 2013.06.27

    Ken - No doubt Mr. Remily is capable of "ready, shoot, aim." His signature, if done without prompting by the American News, as a council member was awkward with Kaiser being a city policeman. (Gee, do you think if he left his title off the letter, would readers have been confused which Mark Remily had signed it?)

    Having said that, Remily is not Kaiser's boss. Not by a long shot. If Remily somehow managed to have Kaiser harrassed by his direct boss and it could be proven, Kaiser would have a legit beef with Remily and the city management. But really, do you think Remily is that desperate or dumb to make that kind of reach as a council member, not as the mayor or as the city manager, to conduct a petty political war?

    Back to reality. You really want to make this all about Remily's brash attack on Kaiser and not on Kaiser being a gay-baiter in the House of Representatives. Nice try, and you got a lot of help from the chorus line of nattering nabobs of negativity at DWC.

    But facts are stubborn things. Kaiser dumped his crazy amendment on a bill that was backed by a significant coalition of South Dakotans seeking protections for victims of domestic violence. Kaiser saw it as a playground where he could act out his juvenile agenda to do the Tea Party Two-Step. Just like they do in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    That was really dumb. A lot dumber than Remily's letter to the editor which, in my opinion, was overkill. I've never met Kaiser, but I have met Remily and I know he's old and mature enough to have known better than to send a white hot letter like that to the hometown paper.

    So you choose. What's worse? A city council member who blows his top in an over-the-top letter to the editor about a gay-baiting legislator, or a legislator who ruins a major domestic abuse protection bill because it became a platform to pander to bigots with an anti-gay amendment?

    As a libertarian who professes personal liberaties and protections are supremely important, this shouldn't be a hard one to decide.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.06.27

    Ken, the amendment was unnecessary. Reconciliation is simple: if the bill passed by the House differs in any way from the bill passed in the Senate, it must go to conference committee. The bill that reached the House floor already differed from the Senate text. Kaiser did not have to propose any amendment to send it to conference.

    Now Soli's vote and everyone else's, on both sides, are open to interpretation. Soli clearly opposed the anti-gay amendment. But if she had put together a majority to vote no, she would have killed the bill right there. Soli and other aye voters may have found Kaiser's amendment odious but wanted to save the bill from his gay-baiting and from House Judiciary's error. Voting aye at this stage sent the bill to committee and gave them a chance to get a better bill.

    Bree, Rick is not being ridiculous. I acknowledge Kaiser's statement on the record a week after his amendment in which he appeared to disown his amendment and recognize the rights of our gay neighbors to equal protection under the law. But we still haven't gotten a logical explanation of why he offered the amendment in the first place. I might cut Kaiser some slack and hold him to his conference committee comments on March 6. But Rick, Remily, and anyone else would be perfectly justified in looking at the amendment and calling it gay-baiting, provoking a fight for no good reason.

  13. Ken Santema 2013.06.27

    If I actually thought this was done for anti-gay reasons I would have no problem attacking Rep Kaiser on this issue. In this case I just don't think it holds water (and yes, I do have bias towards liberty-leaning elected officials.) And yes, I can see why Rick and Remily would attack Kaiser.

    However I still contend this attack is different. This not the first time Kaiser has been attacked. I did not come to his defense on other attacks. This particular issue I spoke up because it was a someone acting as a City Councilman making the statement.

    I think Cory's point of the amendment not being necessary is true. But in this case I will chalk it up to a rookie mistake.

  14. Bree S. 2013.06.27

    I'm sure his original co-sponsorship of the bill was all part of his Evil Gay-Baiting Plan.

    Why should we should we be surprised that the South Dakota legislature would attempt to make all roommate disputes subject to domestic abuse laws when they pass a law by a wide margin making it illegal for teenagers to stream music in a car. That's what happens when we elect a pile of morons to represent us.

  15. Bree S. 2013.06.27

    -"we should"

  16. John 2013.06.27

    Why would some be hell bent on not protecting same sex roommates, including those in dorms, frat & sororities, and others from domestic abuse merely in a fools errand to prejudice those who are different? We should fail to understand why and how some can take an oath to protect and defend the constitutions then purposefully evade the equal protection clauses to substitute and promote narrow prejudices.

  17. Douglas Wiken 2013.06.27

    DOMA overturn will surely lead to a statistically significant increase in heterosexual divorces now that they aren't protected from gay unions. We should watch for it.

    Or, Was DOMA a solution in search of a re-election problem?

  18. mike 2013.06.27

    Remily is the big loser in this. I would hope he pays a steep price for saying someone hates gays because of a legislative maneuver.

    In my opinion the guy is about as low of form of human being as I've seen. The reason I think that is because he defamed Kaiser in an attempt to stick up for a group he felt Kaiser was discriminating against. Instead he ended up discriminating against a person who has no malice towards gay people. Remily should pick up the phone next time and save himself the public humiliation.

  19. mike 2013.06.27

    As strongly as I feel there should be no tolerance for hate in society I also feel there shouldn't be any tolerance for someone defaming another person before they research and collect the facts.

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.06.28

    Is it a sign of progress that saying someone hates gays now constitutes defamation in South Dakota?

  21. Ken Santema 2013.06.28

    Actually, I think it is is a sign of progress. Sadly that means it is a topic that is off-limits due to political correctness. I've always felt the gay-marriage debate has been a non-issue; I don't give a darn what two consenting adults do. But now people who had a less liberal view of gay marriage are likely to be attacked for views held in the past, even if they no longer hold those views. Or in this case it will be made to look like an anti-gay attack. Once a topic becomes about "politically correct" it also becomes a topic that cannot be openly discussed.

  22. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.06.28

    Ken, there's nothing wrong with some topics going off limits. Is there a problem with not being able to stand up in the middle of a crowded theater and shout, "Black people don't deserve equal protection under the law"?

    "Oppressed by political correctness" is a worn-out complaint. I believe a logical argument should always be allowed into conversation, and if it really is logical, it should win a hearing in the marketplace of ideas. Now, if Kaiser really believes in equal protection under the law for homosexuals, he won't have to formulate that argument. (He should still formulate a logical explanation: I want to hear it from Dan's own lips: was it a rookie mistake? Was it gay-baiting? It certainly wan't what he said it was, as we seem to be agreeing.) But if someone else is itching to make that logical argument and explain why co-habitating homosexuals should be denied protection under domestic abuse laws, I leave the floor open.

Comments are closed.