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.