House State Affairs voted wrong a lot yesterday. In two meetings, including a p.m. session that dragged into European supper time, House State Affairs decided to force all students to honor God and country at school, declined to end South Dakota's shady EB-5 program, continued to dodge their responsibility to restore our delinquent K-12 funding, refused to expand Medicaid, and refused to let us vote on expanding Medicaid.

But House State Affairs did offer one redeeming vote yesterday, killing House Bill 1251, the last bit of "Jesus says no cake for gays" legislation rattling about in the hopper. Like Senate Judiciary on Tuesday, House State Affairs stood unanimously against naked legal aggression against non-heterosexual South Dakotans.

HB 1251 sponsor Rep. Lance Russell (R-20/Hot Springs) worked hard to avoid mentioning the homosexuals his bill targeted. He pretended HB 1251 was all about "tort reform" and "freedom of contract" but really just fronting for the secret hope of bill supporters that they could drive homosexuals out of small towns by essentially closing all shops and jobs to them.

A couple of gay-panicking preachers backed Rep. Russell up, then got crushed by three of the same opponents who opposed HB 1251's mirror Senate Bill 128 Tuesday.

Lawrence Novotny from Equality South Dakota gently yet firmly made the same case for justice and equality. Teri Carlson of PFLAG made the same plea for equal opportunity for her two sons, one gay, one straight. Carlson again appropriately invoked Fred Phelps as an example of the insult HB 1251 would do to her family.

Tom Barnett of the state bar association returned with even more discursive testimony than he dished on SB 128. After invoking Nazi armbands for gays, snake-charming pastors, the Pledge of Allegiance ("Liberty and justice for most of us? Wink wink?") and Animal Farm, Barnett finally made his most important declaration, that HB 1251 and SB 128 were the most offensive pieces of legislation he'd seen in 30 years of lobbying.

House State Affairs saw the light. Or maybe they were just hungry. They killed HB 1251 and called it a day. Committee member Rep. Bernie Hunhoff (D-18/Yankton) said, "I'm proud to be a member of a Legislature that gives such short shrift to an offensive bill like this."

South Dakota's Republican-dominated Legislature does many things wrong. But Wednesday, nine Republicans and four Democrats got equality for non-straight South Dakotans right. Thank you, House State Affairs.