Press "Enter" to skip to content

Jensen Offers SB 128 to Protect Religious Zealots from “Anti-Straight” Bullying

Last updated on 2015.02.05

Josie Weiland, senior at Stevens High School, challenged legislators to defend Senate Bill 128 at a Rapid City crackerbarrel yesterday. SB 128 is Senator Phil Jensen's (R-33/Rapid City) effort to pervert the First Amendment into permission to deny others' civil rights, not to mention nullify federal law and subjugate the judicial branch to the legislative branch.

Here is Weiland's challenge to the attending legislators and to all South Dakotans:

Senate Bill 128 is an unproductive act of discrimination that allows for social oppression of the LGBT community, and is a clear violation of human dignity. It violates John Locke's social contract, which is the very foundation of the U.S. Constitution, which states: every person is entitled to the unalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of happiness, unless the individual takes another individual's unalienable rights away. The bill fails to give warrant as to how this will actually be benefiting South Dakota and is a poor reflection of our elected officials to be focusing time on creating bills that disconnect our communities and serve to maintain oppression. It is certainly not allowing "liberty and justice for all". Our elected leaders should allocate our time and money into issues that actually benefit the community such as Common Core and expansion of Medicaid. THESE are issues that should be prioritized. The Republican Party and sponsors of this bill want less government involvement, so please, what is the justification behind THIS exemption? [Josie Weiland, crackerbarrel, School of Mines, Rapid City, 2014.02.01].

Mention John Locke, and you're sailing over most legislators' heads. Here's how Senator Jensen responded:

Senate Bill 128 is an anti-bullying free speech bill. We've all heard recently Colorado had a bake shop, cake shop, cake decorating business that they refused on their convictions, their religious beliefs to not provide a wedding cake for a gay couple. Well, you'd think that the Constitution would protect these folks from lawsuits and harassment, but they're going through the wringer on this thing.

This bill is just a proactive bill that will protect businesses and individuals from the bullying by the anti-straight folks... [Senator Phill Jensen, crackerbarrel, 2014.02.01].

At this point, members of the audience laughed. Weiland did not. Sounding incredulous at the absurdity of the adult at the front of the room, she interrupted:

Excuse me, anti-straight folks? This is a proactive bill that decreases bullying? [Weiland, 2014.02.01]

Weiland understands Senator Jensen is offering unabashed GOP Newspeak. SB 128 grants bigots legal protection for straight bigots to engage in verbal and economic bullying against homosexuals. It also protects gays who would bully straights in the same way. SB 128 itself is bullying.

Senator Jensen plowed ahead, without acknowledging Weiland any more than he had in his opening words:

The Attorney General happened to send me an email that said we're going to have to modify section 4 to read that the AG shall defend the constitutionality of sections 1 and 2 of this act as authorized by law. Otherwise [inaudible] authoroty issue and a fiscal impact issue [Jensen, 2014.02.01].

Senator Jensen is referring to the current wording of SB 128, which would require the Attorney General to defend bigots in court at taxpayer expense. AG Marty Jackley appears unconcerned about bullying and civil rights, but at least he's watching out for his office's budget.

Senator Jensen's "response" drew disheartening applause. So did the following statement by Rep. Mike Verchio (R-30/Hill City):

My stance on all of this is that I would like to have everyone who wants repsect for their values and their causes to have the same respect for my values and my causes. Because I am a very proud Christian conservative and follow the teachings of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ™ does not make me a bigot, and I object to people who think I am a bigot [Rep. Mike Verchio, 2014.02.01].

Being proud, Christian, conservative, or a follower of Jesus does not make anyone a bigot or a bully. Acting like Senator Jensen and Rep. Verchio does. Weiland understands that difference. She offers this rebuttal online:

I never mentioned the word Christianity or bigot in my speech and neither of them answered my question, or gave warrant as to how they were upholding the name of "Christianity". Now the responses from the gentleman were so un-Christlike, I have a hard time getting myself to see the other side. I got extremely emotional after all of this because I realized that this is ACTUALLY how these men think. I am extremely appalled and disgusted by this bill, and would encourage you all to do something about it too! [Josie Weiland, Facebook post, 2014.02.01]

Weiland tried to do something more about it after the crackerbarrel. She tried talking logic face to face with her Senator. She found it rather difficult:

After the meeting, I tried to confront Sen. Jensen about his bill, and after chasing him down for a while (because he was literally running away) I caught up to him. I asked him this: "Based on the premise of this bill (free speech), you wouldn't object to a bill that protected business owners from legal suit if they chose to deny Christians services?"

He told me he didn't know what I meant and started quickly walking away. So I told him to replace the words "sexual orientation" with Christianity in his bill, and according to the warrants of it, he would thereby have to agree.

Instead, he didn't say anything.

So I called him out and said "You're just going to ignore this? Ignore the public opinion?" (after all, I am in his district) He replied, "I suppose I am just going to ignore it." The worst thing about all of this? Sen Phil Jensen of District 33 runs unopposed [Weiland, online, 2014.02.01].

Weiland turns 18 this year. She's still too young to run against Senator Jensen (got to be 21 to serve in Pierre), but she will get to vote against him, and get her friends to vote against him, if some brave Democrat from District 33 will give her the chance.


  1. mike from iowa 2014.02.02

    Newsflash-This just in,SoDak Senator Jensen determines school girls with opinions are "icky", maintains distance from inquiring mind. Election year politics has Senator running........away from constituent's questions. Wingnut lawyers plan to file harrassment suit against High School Senior for making Senator Jensen uncomfortable and causing him to expend energy trying to escape harrassment. SoDak lege plans new legislation forcing students to pledge never to ask questions of important public servants under penalty of having jaws wired shut. Flim at eleven.

  2. Donald Pay 2014.02.02

    Jensen is the kind of legislator those clapping South Dakota citizens deserve. He's living in an inescapable hell made by those clapping robot "Christians," who have no idea what Christ, let alone John Locke, stood for. Weiland is far, far less likely to be elected in District 32, but infinitely more likely to escape the hell the clapping "Christian" robots would make everyone live in.

  3. Mike Henriksen 2014.02.02

    I am glad this young woman feels the need to speak her mind and be involved. One thing that has not been brought up in this discussion is the huge mixed message that our state seems to be sending. We spend so much time, money, and effort trying to encourage our young people to stay in South Dakota, or getting people who have left to move back. But then bills like this get introduced. I am painting in very broad strokes here, but I think a large number of the current generation is much more comfortable with alternate lifestyles than older folks are. They see this as an affront. Why would they want to move back to a place that sees members of their family or friends of theirs as someone to be oppressed or discriminated against?

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.02.02

    Bills like this get introduced, Mike, and legislators literally turn their backs on and run away from young people like Weiland.

  5. Mary Perpich 2014.02.02

    Ms. Weiland's challenge of Jensen and this pernicious bill is both brave and well researched. I am excited that young people are getting involved in politics. We may have a bright future after all.

  6. Mike Henriksen 2014.02.02

    On a related note, a rep in Sioux Falls made the same "I am not a bigot" statement at his legislative coffee yesterday. I would think the best way to make it clear that one is not a bigot is to stop supporting bills that appear bigoted.

  7. Keryl Brady 2014.02.02

    Way to go to listen to his constituents. Who's the adult here? Not Sen. Jensen.

  8. Dave 2014.02.02

    What's so unfortunate is the wise individual in this whole scenario -- Josie Weiland -- will probably, like so many of our young people, be forced to leave South Dakota. It may be because of a lack of opportunity, or the incredible intolerance demonstrated by those who we entrust to secure our state's progress (legislators), or both. A bright future for South Dakota? With people like Jensen in Pierre? Doubtful.

  9. interested party 2014.02.02

    Lord and Savior Jesus Christ™ classic CAH!

  10. Rick 2014.02.02

    The Argus Leader covered the Legislative coffee yesterday in Sioux Falls. Rep Anne Hajek made a clear and decisive point regarding SB128:

    “I am offended by this bill, and I think every citizen in the state should be,” Hajek said. She said beyond its discriminatory nature, it casts South Dakota in a poor light nationally.

    “Stand up. Find out who is sponsoring these bills,” Hajek told the audience, “and do not re-elect them.”

  11. Lynn G. 2014.02.02

    Sorry but I'm just so skeptical about the motives about is really behind legislation such as this. Is it just a sideshow to divert everyone's attention away from EB-5 scandal, GOED and other issues that we need to be putting pressure on our elected officials to deal with or is something else here at play?

    History reminds me of those that were so vocal at limiting the rights of others using their faith in God as justification usually had something to hide and there was the possibility sooner or later the public would find out. Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart, Grant Storms, Dr. George Rekers and the list could go on.

  12. Steve Howe 2014.02.02

    I despise that people mask their own appaling behavior in the cloak of religious beliefs in an effort to excuse themselves from scrutiny. Religious beliefs are what flew planes into the twin towers. Religious beliefs are responsible for centuries of atrocities which have been deemed illegal in modern society. Are all vile acts done in the name of religion to be excused and their defense funded by the public because someone "believed" it to be the right thing? Because God says it's OK to discriminate doesn't make it OK in a society supposedly ruled by a secular government. We are being asked as a state to support and enable the desire to discriminate against an entire class of people in the name of religion belief, which on the surface seems laughable and hardly worthy of discussion because it seems completely unpassable. But the fact this bill has a dozen sponsors, many representing our largest population centers, and that people actually applauded Jensen's and Verchio's rebuttle to Weiland, shows this isn't the work of one or two isolated crackpots. This, unfortunately, is an attitude more pervasive than we'd like to admit.

  13. owen reitzel 2014.02.02

    I think everybosy shold ask their senator in their District how they stand on this bill. I've emailed my senator but have not heard from him yet.
    However next week we have a Cracker Barrel and I'm going to ask him then.
    Jensen is a perfect example why we have to teach history. History is repeating itself. I bet if you bo back before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and you'd hear the same garbage

  14. Rick 2014.02.02

    Rep. Mike Verchio (R-30/Hill City): 'My stance on all of this is that I would like to have everyone who wants repsect for their values and their causes to have the same respect for my values and my causes.'

    Mr. Verchio, has any legislation been introduced that would trample on your values and causes? Can you point to anyone stating they want to trample on your values and causes?

  15. Douglas Wiken 2014.02.02

    Republicans are pros at solving problems that don't exist. They should be irrelevant in any civilized part of the world.

  16. Robin Page 2014.02.02

    What a courageous young woman! I am SO happy that she is in my district, Legislative District 33. In 2012, an Independent, Matt McGrath, ran against Senator Jensen. Matt knocked on many doors. He spent thousands of dollars. As the Democratic candidate for the House in District 33, I supported Matt and the people who voted for me, supported him too. But still, it was not enough to take Senator Jensen out of office. Our district is gerrymandered to insure the GOP the election of both the Senator and two Representatives. This kind of legislation reeks of hatred and discrimination not only for the LGBT community, but it falls over into the on-going discrimination of members of the Native American community here in our state. As long as people like Senator Jensen are allowed to be in office, our community and state will illegally and opening discriminate against anyone they do not like. Join with me in an aggressive campaign to remove Senator Jensen and other elected officials like him. 2014 is a year when each of us must stand up for what we believe in. We must generously, financially support good candidates. We must write articles in the newspapers and put bumper stickers on our cars. Organize your neighborhoods. Have gatherings with your neighbors to discuss what each of you can do to help put good people into office who will work for the benefit of ALL the people they represent. I believe that there are "more of us" than there are "more of them". Now, let's put "US" into elected office!

  17. Kevin 2014.02.02

    Thanks for the summary of the event, Cory. I was proud of what my daughter, Josie did and how she handled herself with those who accused her of being "anti-straight". Her boyfriend in attendance was impressed as well. She sees this issue as the civil rights issue of her time and, like her father, hates the hipocracy of the Christain Right. The Rapid City version of a cracker barrel is just a venue for a bunch of republicans to get together and vent their issues. So, when Josie showed up and expressed her well thought out opinion, Sen. Jensen was caught off gard, resulting in a calamity of stupid statements and avoidance to the issue. I enjoy seeing this empowerment develop in my daughter, although the experience was upsetting for her (that old so called, men of God, think this way) she received more positives out of it and very few negatives. Her next stop? The Cracker Barrel event in Sen Jensens district this Saturday at Piedmont,SD.

  18. Kevin 2014.02.02

    Awesome post Robin

  19. mike from iowa 2014.02.02

    Kevin-congrats to you for raising such a conscientious daughter. iowa could use more like her if she gets run out of South Dakota.

  20. Kevin Weiland 2014.02.02

    Thanks Mike. Love your breaking news.

  21. Vickie 2014.02.02

    *standing ovation for Josie Weiland*

  22. Roger Cornelius 2014.02.02

    Josie is my hero and gives this old guy hope for South Dakota's future. South Dakota Republicans have an opportunity to grow up and learn what the Constitution truly means, Josie is growing up to be a well articulated young lady that understands Civil Rights and that they don't just apply to Blacks or Native Americans.

    On the other SB128 thread here on Madvile, I made several references to young people's tolerance and acceptance on the rights of the LGBT community. In years to come it will be the Josie's of South Dakota that bring the revolution needed for a "proactive" state and equal right for all.
    Jesus know's what Phil Jensen, Stace Nelson and other purveyors of hate and intolerance are about, he knows and understands them well. Josie understands them too.

    Now, let's give a big hand clap for Jesus, and for Josie!!

  23. Nick Nemec 2014.02.02

    Jensen and Verchio represent Rapid City, one of the most tourism dependent cities in South Dakota, I hope the local business leaders call them out on this bone headed proposal. If this idiot idea starts drawing attention in the national media it has the potential to do real harm to the local and state economy.

  24. Robin Page 2014.02.02

    Kevin & Josie - Let's work together to remove our Tea Party legislators in District 33. I would love to sit down with both of you to strategize. This will help Rick and Corinna Robinson as well. If there are others who would like to help, please, let's all get together and talk. Call me at: 415-5968.

  25. Charlie Johnson 2014.02.02

    Having known the Weiland family for my entire life, it's no surprise the younger generation is carrying on the torch for social justice. Josie Weiland, keep up your efforts. Your spirit is both contagious and inspirational.

  26. Bree S. 2014.02.02

    Nice attempt at spin, but I find absolutely nothing objectionable in the statements by Jensen and
    Verchio, nor in Jensen's responses to Josie's rude hounding of him.

  27. Larry 2014.02.02

    I was there. It was amazing. The Clappers were the minority, even though they were loud. Most of the rest were shaking their heads. Josie probably should not have used Locke. As soon as she did they had no idea what she was talking about. Two other times Jensen showed his lack of reasoning. One on the Common Core debate. He came up with some absolute crazy comments on it. I am not 100% behind Common Core, but these right-wing claims are not helping them. Another, in response to how do these people know what legislation to support, he simply said his district is one of the most if not the most conservative in the state. District 33 is maybe the most diverse in SD. It does contain some of the richest people in the Black Hills, but it also has
    the highest percent of Natives and poor people in the state outside Reservations. I guess those people don't count. I do know he has refused to listen to some Natives who have some to him. Let's find someone to challenge him.

  28. interested party 2014.02.02

    yeah phil should have pulled up his sidearm and blown her away: right, bree?

  29. Bree S. 2014.02.02

    Pointless hyperbole, Larry. If I had run down a Democrat legislator, chasing after them and hounding them with questions over their support for pro-choice bill because I am pro-life, you'd be singing a different tune. She failed to bully and irritate him into a verbal misstep, and this post is the best Cory could come up with. Weak.

  30. owen reitzel 2014.02.02

    "Nice attempt at spin, but I find absolutely nothing objectionable in the statements by Jensen and
    Verchio, nor in Jensen's responses to Josie's rude hounding of him."

    wow Bree. The bigotry is disgusting. anti-straight???

  31. Bree S. 2014.02.02

    Go read the other thread on SB 128 Owen. You're late to the party.

  32. interested party 2014.02.02

    no doubt you've to numerous crackerbarrels, bree since you're a cracker and all.

  33. interested party 2014.02.02

    hyperbole is the malaproism, pro-life.

  34. interested party 2014.02.02


  35. Jenny 2014.02.02

    Think again Nick, if you don't think the So Dak legislature's SB 128 has not made national attention. I've done my part in calling MN news circuits, and has a petition out since Friday that has close to 500 signatures already. Please sign this if you believe in equality for all, and please share this on FB, friends and family.

  36. owen reitzel 2014.02.02

    The Anne Beal post Bree?

  37. Bree S. 2014.02.02

    No Owen, the thread on SB 128 with 186 comments where your accusations of bigotry have been thoroughly discussed already.

  38. Bree S. 2014.02.02

    Um Larry aren't you a "cracker" too? lol.

  39. interested party 2014.02.02

    but i'm in shorts sitting in the sun and have a really great tan.

  40. mike from iowa 2014.02.02

    Bree S-care to define "run down" for us non-intellectuals? I need your input so you can't claim I said you were gonna run down a Dem and have it taken out of context,if I comment.

  41. Roger Cornelius 2014.02.02

    Point of clarification, please?

    Is there an * on the 1st Amendment that states a young woman has to be "rude" or "unrude" when attempting to discuss an important issue with her state legislator.

    Jensen is a coward, he ran from a constituent and is advocating a piece of legislation that is the ultimate in rude.

  42. Dave Lyons 2014.02.02


    If everyone was as brave and articulate as you, we would be in good hands! You have shown more Courage than anyone involved in recent South Dakota politics and I commend you for being the Adult in the Room!

    Kevin, kudos to you on raising such a wonderful human being.

    I look forwards to this discriminatory Bill being defeated.

  43. Jana 2014.02.02

    Dear Elected People of Pierre,

    I can only imagine your embarrassment that an 18 year old high school student showed more intellect, knowledge of the constitution, ability to speak coherently and courage than any of you have shown in this debate.

    We, the people of South Dakota, are embarrassed for you and want you to know that we deserve better than what you are currently doing in Pierre.

  44. grudznick 2014.02.02

    Aren't Messrs. Jensen and Verchio both from west of Wall and not from Pierre?

  45. Roger Cornelius 2014.02.02


    Jensen and Verchio are from hell, trying a earn a ticket back with the bigoted SB128

  46. grudznick 2014.02.02

    I wouldn't think their god would reward bigots. These fellows are possibly just misguided and they could yet recant.

  47. Deb Geelsdottir/ 2014.02.02

    Is DIA, Democracy In Action, still functioning in RC? They could be a good resource for organizing.

    Congratulations Josie, on a brave and very smart political action at the cracker barrel.

    When "Christians?" talk about being so proud of themselves in the same breath with calling themselves "Christian", it makes me cringe. True followers of Jesus ought to know that Jesus had some things to say about pride. They weren't good things.

  48. John Tsitrian 2014.02.03

    Yes, Deb, DIA is still functioning and active. Some of you folks might like to read my post on this in The Constant Commoner off to the right--it's getting some attention out here on the west end of the state. My discussion of the word "bigot" would probably be of interest to some here. On my Facebook page it got an "Amen! Preach it!" from Bob Rudebusch, the Sioux Falls pastor who presided over George McGovern's funeral. Thanks again, Cory, for making it so easily available.

Comments are closed.