Around the Region: Marriage equality advances in South Dakota



South Dakota
*A federal judge struck down South Dakota’s ban on same-sex marriage last week. The Associated Press reports that Republican Attorney General Marty Jackley will appeal the decision:

A: Attorney General Marty Jackley said the state will appeal the case to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a conservative-leaning federal appeals court that in 2006 affirmed Nebraska’s right to ban same-sex marriages.
“It remains the state’s position that the institution of marriage should be defined by the voters of South Dakota and not the federal courts,” Jackley said.

*The decision comes as LGBT and allied South Dakotans meet to build a movement in that state, reports Madville Times:

Equality South Dakota and other allies of LGBT equality and civil rights will be discussing the details of Judge Schreier’s ruling at this weekend’sDakotas’ Equality Summit, January 16–17, in Rapid City at the Holiday Inn Rushmore Plaza.
Equality South Dakota heads to Pierre on January 29 to make sure legislators don’t get any wild ideas about trying to circumvent yesterday’s ruling. January 29 is EqSD’s Legislative Day.

*South Dakota State University is under fire as a transgender student faced discrimination at the rec center, LGBT Weekly reports:

Graduate student A. T. Furuya identifies as a genderqueer and transmasculine — transmasculine referring to people assigned female at birth that identify as more male than female on a gender spectrum between male and female — and uses gender neutral (they/them/their) and masculine (he/him/his) for personal pronouns. On the afternoon of January 14, Furuya used the men’s locker room shower, and allegedly was told by another gym patron to “Get your titties and go across to the other locker room. That’s where the women are. And, if you don’t go, I’ll remove you myself.”

*Davenport has been named one of the Queerest Cities in America by The Advocate, and local leaders are praising the designation.

A bill to ban “ex-gay therapy” for minors has been introduced in the Iowa Legislature, the Iowa Statesman reports:

The state’s first openly gay legislator has offered a bill that, if passed, will make it illegal for licensed mental health providers to offer sexual orientation change counseling to minors.
State Sen. Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines) authored Senate File 31 earlier this week. The bill not only prohibits a mental health provider from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with a patient under 18 years of age, but would subject those who do to disciplinary action.
Similar legislation has been passed in both New Jersey and California, as well as in the District of Columbia. Legislation like SF 31 is pending in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
In the case of the District of Columbia’s ban, the legislation was crafted in a way that was not supposed to interfere with religious counseling.

*Madison was ranked 5th in The Advocate’s Queerest Cities in America.

*Youth in Stevens Point held a candlelight vigil to remember Leelah Alcorn, a transgender 17-year old who took her own life in December, the Stevens Point Journal:

Local organizations are offering community members the chance to discuss the impact of a transgender Ohio teen’s recent suicide.
The Stevens Point Area Senior High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance is partnering with the Central Wisconsin Pride Resource Network to sponsor a candlelight vigil in remembrance of Leelah Alcorn, whose Dec. 28 death after being hit by a semi-trailer was ruled a suicide. She left a post on her Tumblr account in which she said that she was unhappy with her life and that she wanted her death to mean something and be counted among the other transgender suicides that year.

*The head of Wisconsin’s anti-LGBT group Wisconsin Family Action, Julaine Appling, made the claim that polls on same-sex marriage haven’t changed over the years, a claim that Politifact ruled false:

In saying a do-over of the state’s 2006 referendum legalizing only opposite-sex marriages would again pass, Appling said public opinion polls on gay marriage “are not dramatically changing.”
Her remarks were squarely in a Wisconsin context, and surveys here have shown major change in favor of legalizing same-sex marriages.
We rate her claim False.

North Dakota
*The lawsuit challenging North Dakota’s ban on same-sex marriage will likely wait until after the U.S. Supreme Court visits the issue in March, the Grand Forks Herald reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to decide whether states can ban gay marriage, delving into a contentious social issue in what will be one of the most anticipated rulings of the year.
The federal judge overseeing the legal challenge to the gay marriage ban in North Dakota is likely to refrain from issuing a decision until the Supreme Court settles the matter, said Joshua Newville, who represents seven same-sex couples who sued the state in June to overturn the ban.

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Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.