South Dakota Legislature Kills ‘Transgender Bathroom’ Bill

By The Stream Published on March 4, 2016

The South Dakota legislature’s attempt to protect children from sharing bathrooms and locker rooms with students of the opposite sex died on Thursday, when the state’s house of representatives failed to over-ride Republican governor Dennis Daugaard’s veto. The house voted 36 to 29 to over-ride the veto of what had been called the “transgender bathroom bill,” short of the two-thirds majority needed.

The bill would have been the first of its kind in the country.

As reported on Tuesday, Daugaard vetoed a bill (H.B. 1008) that prevented students who claimed to be “transgender” from using the facilities of their chosen sex, while also requiring schools to make “reasonable accommodations” for them. The ACLU had threatened to support student lawsuits against the bill while others suggested threats to the state’s important tourism industry.

The votes on the veto divided mostly on party lines, though some Republicans voted against it. The bill’s prime sponsor, Republican representative Fred Deutsch, asked his colleagues to join him in voting nay, and promised to bring back “a better, stronger bill.”

“Because I think the national focus on South Dakota should be on our positive business environment, strong labor market and the excellent work our schools do, I am going to ask my legislative colleagues to concur with the Governor’s veto,” Deutsch had said in a statement Tuesday after the governor’s veto. The bill

was intended to be a practical solution to our evolving social values on gender issues. Unfortunately emotions on both sides of this issue have dominated the news coverage and the recent debate. I still believe an objective reading of the proposed law is consistent with my intent to be non-discriminatory and fair to all students and parents.

The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest homosexualist lobby, praised the state for rejecting “this unconscionable legislative assault on transgender children.” It mentioned that the bill put South Dakota “at risk of losing up to nearly $200 million in federal funding in addition to the cost of inevitable litigation.”

Yesterday another bill on transgender issues (H.B. 1112) was deferred for later consideration by a state senate committee. Already passed by the house of representatives, the bill was intended to “establish certain procedures regarding a transgender policy for the purposes of participation in high school activities.”

One Republican representative, Thomas B runner, explained his support for the “transgender” bill: “This is what we really believe and this is how we want to protect our children. Whether they’re boys or they’re girls or somewhere in between, this is how we protect people here.”

“The South Dakota legislature [had given] the entire United States an example of principled leadership on how to defuse controversy and craft public policy that creates good outcomes for everyone,” wrote the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson, in a commentary posted on The Stream yesterday. The governor and now the legislature gave it up.

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