Last updated on 2014.02.05
I just want to celebrate with Senator Angie Buhl O'Donnell and the South Dakota Democrats, who joyfully announce that vile, discriminatory, and unconstitutional Senate Bill 67 is dead!
But I can't. Prime sponsor Senator Ernie Otten (R-6/Tea) withdrew the bill yesterday, but not because of the 4,000-some folks who quickly signed an SDDP petition calling for its defeat. Senator Otten did not suddenly recognize businesses cannot discriminate against lesbian or Lakota customers based on the business owners' professed religious beliefs.
Senator Otten withdrew SB 67 because he thinks such discrimination is already legal:
Sen. Ernie Otten, R-Tea, said it was that legal advice that led him to withdraw the bill.
"I’ve been checking with lawyers… to make sure it was in good standing," Otten said. "I found out we already had protections in for the folks" [David Montgomery, "One Refusal-of-Service Bill Withdrawn," Political Smokeout, 2014.01.29].
I'm listening to Senator Otten testify right now before Senate Judiciary in support of his other current anti-homosexual grandstand, Senate Bill 66, which redundantly asserts the right of pastors to decline to solemnize a same-sex marriage. He is steeped in the language of fear, claiming intolerant extremists are waging war against religion, seeking an America in which he cannot worship as he sees fit. Senator Otten has gotten his bills exactly backwards. The protections of pastors Senate Bill 66 seeks are already available; Senate Bill 67 is (was) outright discrimination. Its proposed protections are not currently legal.
But the motivations of both are vile and deserve our vigorous opposition in defense of the Constitution and equality.