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Students Host Human Rights Rally Monday at Rapid City Main St. Square

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.


  1. Oldguy 2014.02.16

    I love to see young people engaged in the political process. Agree or disagree with their stance I would hope all would agree it's great they are involved.

  2. mike from iowa 2014.02.16

    Kansas House of Repugnants passed an even more draconian bill that will essentially allow police and firefighters to NOT respond to emergencies if it violates their widdle feelers. Gays may be denied access to parks and swimming pools,etc. I hope the youngsters of SoDak rise up and meet the challenge their elders have tossed in their faces.

  3. John 2014.02.16

    Apparently too many in Rapid and too many of Rapid's politicians require a Matthew Shepard moment to occur here to wake up to civil rights.

  4. Barry Muxen 2014.02.16

    Would like to attend, so can someone give a more specific time?

  5. grudznick 2014.02.16

    I hope Mr. Jensen gets his ears assaulted with very hurtful news over his 1.2.8 bill. It should be beaten down with a stick and Mr. Jensen should be sent packing from the legislatures.

    Mike, from iowa, what is a widdle feeler, is that some term these LGBT people use that mainstreamers don't understand, or code to keep us from understanding?

  6. Roger Cornelius 2014.02.16

    I haven't seen this posted on Facebook yet.

  7. Jenny 2014.02.16

    Mark your calendars, SDs infamous proposed anti-gay SB 128 legislation is scheduled for a 2/18 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. It would be nice to see the Capital filled with gay rights supporters on Tuesday.

  8. SDBlue 2014.02.16

    Maybe our young people here will eventually drag South Dakota out of the dark ages. Since the average age of a Fox News viewer is 68, maybe I will even see it in my lifetime...hopefully, I have a couple of decades left in me. All these Red States introducing the same legislation. Anyone want to bet this has ALEC's fingerprints all over it?

  9. Robin Page 2014.02.16

    Senator Jensen DOES NOT speak for the majority of people in District 33 on this issue or any other that promotes hatred and division in our community. I am so happy that Josie lives in our district! I believe that her work will help motivate the moderate people in our district to get out and vote in November.

  10. Douglas Wiken 2014.02.16

    Matthew Shepard moment t

    I think I saw a recent story suggesting that sex was not the only factor involved, but perhaps a bad drug deal or some similar illegality. Not sure however.

    Whatever was the reason or excuse, the results of publicity of the case have been positive....except in the minds of some SD legislators perhaps.

  11. Joan Brown 2014.02.16

    I hope those two young women keep having the courage to protest things that they believe are wrong. It seems like the only things politicians want to concentrate on is people's personal lives and what they do in the bedroom.

  12. Roger Cornelius 2014.02.16

    I don't recall that the Mathew Sheppard case involved a drug deal or any other illegality, I believe it was a robbery and a hate crime.

  13. Roger Cornelius 2014.02.16

    A bit of misinformation on my part, the murderers of Mathew Sheppard were not charged with a hate crime as that legislation did not exist at the time.

    The Sheppard case did lead to the law on "hate crimes".

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.02.16

    Whoops! My bad, Barry. 5:30 p.m.! I left the time out of the original post, but it's there now! I hope you'll all be there at Main Street Square, 5:30 p.m.... and send me pictures and video!

  15. Brian 2014.02.16

    "If fascism comes, it will not be identified with any 'shirt' movement, nor with an 'insignia', but it will probably be wrapped up in the American flag and heralded as a plea for liberty and preservation of the constitution." - James Waterman Wise, Jr., reported in a 1936 issue of The Christian Century, Volume 53, Feb 5, 1936, p. 245

    This was said almost 80 years ago! It's shocking and scary that it is being proven true today.

  16. Roger Cornelius 2014.02.16

    I would love to see Josie and Elle testify at both hearings!

  17. grudznick 2014.02.16

    As long as the young Weiland woman doesn't launch into testimonials for her uncle, she should take the day off school and go to Pierre and teach Mr. Jensen a lesson or two where he cannot run away and hide in the restrooms. Or maybe he can but then he'll be on that scorecard too.

  18. Donald Pay 2014.02.16

    One can hope these sorts of bills are the dying gasp of the fascist right here in America, but the fact that they are being introduced all over the country indicates that, at minimum, these fascists are organized. I'm glad to see some in-the-street resistance to this fascism. Too often we just laugh at these people thinking they are clowns. No. These guys are deadly serious about trying to enact policies in the US that they've encouraged to be enacted in Uganda and Russia.

    These might be the first US demonstrations against these fascist bills, and South Dakota students are leading the way!!!

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.02.16

    Brian, can we get the chaplain to open the Legislature with that quote every day?

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.02.16

    Donald, you help me recall that the Tea Party started one February, out of frustration with the federal government (well, overtly, though we must consider the smell of astroturf). What if frustration with state legislatures could spark a similar movement that would result in a significant electoral backlash to protect civil rights?

  21. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.02.17

    Sinclair Lewis is credited with a quote very similar to the one Brian provided.
    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
    Lewis nailed that one for sure. Unfortunately for all of us.

  22. mike from iowa 2014.02.17

    Widdle feelers is baby-talk for little feelings. Wingnuts need to learn their "widdle feelers" get hurt when they play with fire.

  23. grudznick 2014.02.17

    Thank you, I thought the term "widdle feelers" was just something missing from my heterosexual vocabulary.

  24. Joan Brown 2014.02.17

    mike from iowa your comment brought to mind a conversation I had with my 45 year old mentally handicapped recently. On the nights there is a moon we can see it for awhile from our patio door, then later on we can't see it because it is in back of the apt. building across from us. She asked me how come the moon moves and I told her the moon doesn't move, but the earth moves. Anyway she gave me one of those looks. I guess I am going to have to spend a little time figuring out how to explain it to her in terms she will understand.

  25. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.02.17

    Apparently Joan, many SD legislators share your (?) handicap.

  26. mike from iowa 2014.02.17

    Joan Brown.I wish you all the luck in the world. You have a much better chance of imparting knowledge to your child than anyone has trying to educate the willfully ignorant who refuse to see the truth. For what it might be worth,if I was a praying man,you'd definitely have a special mention.

  27. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.02.17

    Joan, you're going to need a basketball, a Lego man, some tape, and a baseball... and maybe a large toy block to tape next to the Lego man.

  28. Megan Konz 2014.02.17

    Any word on how these young ladies' rally went today?

  29. Karrie Perrier 2014.02.17

    Way to go Josie & Elle! Young people of SD stand up for your rights. Let your voices be heard. We all need to be more accepting of people. It is the ignorance of some that hold back this country. If a business doesn't want to serve someone, then why are they running a public business? I thought we went through all this in the 60's.

  30. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.02.17

    Waiting, Megan... should be happening right now!

  31. grudznick 2014.02.17

    I have called a friend who was dining that way and am awaiting a report on the crowds...

  32. Megan Konz 2014.02.17

    Of course. I always forget the time difference. I can't wait to hear how it went.

  33. grudznick 2014.02.17

    My friend says there is about 150 people there by the ice rink.

  34. Kerma Reshetar 2014.02.17

    So very proud of you young girls, everyone deserves equality in rights! We are all human beings with a beating & loving heart, who is to judge who we love, who we serve, who we hire because of their sexual preference! Very proud of you both, it takes some brave young sensible girls to show some naive political people how to think & love people!!!!! These kind of people could someday have a grandson, granddaughter who is involved in LGBT & WOW would they feel the love!!! Way to go Elle & Josie!!! Let your voices be heard!

  35. Kerma Reshetar 2014.02.17

    Someone please post how the rally is going, wish I was there!
    Smart Girls, Future Leaders!!! Makes for a better South Dakota!!

  36. grudznick 2014.02.17

    There are cops there.

  37. Jana 2014.02.17

    Good thing with police protection Grud. You never know when Westboro Baptist will show up to provide reinforcement for their South Dakota GOP branch parish of haters.

    Just curious if a gay member of the SD National Guard gives the ultimate sacrifice in war...will the GOP even recognize their service?

    Will they tell their gay hating kindred from Westboro to stay home?

  38. Kerma Reshetar 2014.02.17

    Maybe Senator Phil Jensen needed protection, if he even had the brains to attend! Maybe he was worried he would be questioned by a girl on Human Rights!

  39. grudznick 2014.02.17

    Ms. Jana, I fear you are assuming you know my feelings on these issues without reading my words. Young lady, go back please and read my words. Then come and be a smartypants with me. I was just reporting that there were cops there. If you don't want to read my reporting then don't.

    You owe me a pizza

  40. Jana 2014.02.17

    Gosh Grud. Isn't that what the police are there serve and protect? The speculation on who they were protecting and from whom was all mine.

    Maybe we should ask the Rapid City PD why they were there?

    Oh yeah thanks for calling me young!

  41. Jana 2014.02.17

    Of course, they could have been protecting Brave Sir Mr. Jensen as he bravely ran away. With apologies to Monty Python.

  42. Barry Muxen 2014.02.17

    Attended the rally tonight and the crowd estimate of 150 or so seems about right. Mostly seemed to be a younger crowd, but I'm an old timer, a lot of people look younger to me. Dem gubernatorial hopeful Joe Lowe was there. Seems to be on the right (correct) side on many issues. There will be a town hall meeting Mar 13 @ the Moose Lodge on E St Pat, 6:30pm to 8:30pm to discuss strategies. Hope the momentum continues.

  43. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.02.18

    Grudz?! Did you just report real news? Wow! Thanks!

    And Barry! You saw Joe Lowe there? Cool! I hope he took time to talk to all of those young organizers, thank them for their work... and let them know there's a place for them in his campaign.

    Now, who's going to the March 13 meeting? Strategies for what?

  44. Jenny 2014.02.18

    As we all know, MN voted in gay marriage. It was a fierce debate and here is an eloquent speech a MN legislator had that, to me, says it best. How many more gays must god create before we accept that god wants them around?

  45. Jenny 2014.02.18

    Does anyone know how the anti-gay SB 128 bill is doing this morning? As of 8:am it was scheduled for a hearing is all I know. I would love to hear it live, does SDPR have these hearings live?

  46. Nick Nemec 2014.02.18

    The bill was deferred to the 41st day, essentially a killing motion, by a vote of 5-2.

  47. deb 2014.03.11

    So much hate in these posts against people with different views. Talk about intolerence! Take your own advice. Live and let live. This is America where you are free to believe in whatever your heart tells you is right. But you are not free to force your views on others and demean them for having a different view. That's being a hippocrit.

  48. Roger Cornelius 2014.03.11


    Who are you talking to?

  49. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.03.11

    Live and let live—absolutely. But do not discriminate and let discriminate.

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