With marriage equality the law in South Dakota thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court decision on June 26, reactions in the state have been mixed, including in Meade County just north of Rapid City, Black Hills FOX reports:
Alan Aker, the chairman of the Meade County Commission, posted on Facebook on Friday morning his opposition to the ruling, writing, “You haven’t gained marriage ‘equality,’ I predict you have ended marriage as a civil institution,” among other things…
There is a petition circulating on Ipetitions.com asking for Aker to be removed from the county commission.
In Minnehaha County which contains the city of Sioux Falls, at least one couple experienced some derogatory remarks from a government employee, KSFY reports:
While waiting in line with her daughter at the Minnehaha Countytreasurer’s office Monday, a Sioux Falls mom says she overheard a county clerk make what she calls an offensive comment about the new changes for same sex couples in South Dakota.
“I overheard a part of a conversation with a person in front of us and the clerk that was there, they were discussing the SCOTUS ruling from last week,” Ellee Spawn said.
It is a conversation topic Spawn felt was inappropriate under the circumstances in the first place, but she believes the clerk’s response was even worse.
“Her reaction to that was ‘well apparently I’m just going to marry my dog, because we can just marry whoever we want anymore.’ It struck a cord; I thought that was wrong, you can’t compare beastiality with two consenting adults getting married-they’re not the same thing,” Spawn said.
She says the clerk is entitled to her own opinion on the matter, but says she’s upset it happened in a public building.
According to the Argus Leader, the head of the Diocese of Sioux Falls reacted to the Supreme Court ruling last week:
Bishop Paul Swain led a prayer service for religious freedom at the St. Joseph’s Cathedral, reacting to the United States Supreme Court’s recent ruling on gay marriage….
“We recognize the rule of law in our country, to which we owe respect,” Swain said. “We also recognize the law of God, to which we owe obedience.”
The Sioux Falls service was organized before Friday’s ruling. The church hosts a prayer service each year as part of a national event promoting religious liberty.
South Dakota announced last week that it would allow name changes on driver’s licenses when same-sex couples marry, the Argus Leader reports.
Now that marriage equality has come to South Dakota, the lawsuit challenging the state’s ban has been disposed with. The attorney representing the seven couples that sued the state is seeking reimbusement of legal costs associated with the case, the Associated Press reports:
U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson issued a ruling on Monday, saying the state’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional and invalid. Minneapolis attorney Josh Newville says now that the judge has ruled in favor the plaintiffs, he can start to pursue attorney’s fees.
Under federal law, attorneys in federal civil rights cases can petition a court to award them legal fees if a court finds in their favor.
Newville says he may try and reach a settlement with Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem (STEN’-jem) so they don’t have to go through further court proceedings.
South Dakota’s Attorney General Marty Jackley signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asking Congress to adopt stronger protections for religious institutions in light of the marriage equality ruling.
Jackley also told government employees that if they refuse to serve a same-sex couple, they can decline and have another employee issue marriage licenses.
Democrats in Wisconsin are calling for the anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution be repealed, News 8000 reports:
Lawmakers held a news conference to introduce the resolution after the U.S. Supreme Court decision Friday legalizing gay marriage nationwide. State Reps. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, and Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, applauded the court’s decision and said Wisconsin’s constitution should be amended to reflect it.
“Finally victory is ours, but with this bill we want to ensure that our beloved state of Wisconsin is on the right side of history by removing this discriminatory language from our constitution,” Zamarripa said.
The measure is largely symbolic because a federal appeals court struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban last year. But Spreitzer said it’s important to give voters an opportunity to amend the constitution. Voters in 2006 amended the constitution to include the definition.
With marriage equality off the agenda in Wisconsin, LGBT equity advocates are looking to shore up the state’s anti-discrimination laws, the Wausau Daily Herald:
Wisconsin’s law to combat discrimination against gay people is one of the oldest in the country. Advocates now are aiming to put in place anti-discrimination laws that also protect transgender individuals.
Transgender people are those who identify with a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth. Only Dane and Milwaukee counties have laws against discrimination by gender identity. This means that throughout most of the state, transgender individuals can be legally denied housing, employment and other services because of their gender expression.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who is vying for the Republican nod for president has taken a sharp anti-LGBT turn, the Daily Beast reports in “Conservatives Love Scott Walker’s Anti-Gay Transition“:
Scott Walker’s call for a constitutional amendment to let states ban gay marriage if they wish has saved his reputation with the conservative right.
Scott Walker has his groove back with social conservatives and he has the Supreme Court to thank.
After the court ruled that the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry, Walker released a statement calling for a constitutional amendment to let states define marriage as between one man and one woman. Social conservatives loved it, and it came at a moment when he needed all the love he could get.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren criticized Walker’s anti-gay turn, CNN reports:
The progressive senator from Massachusetts on Monday night knocked Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for calling for a Constitutional amendment that would allow states to ban gay marriage.
“Well, Scott Walker, if you believe the next president’s job is to encourage bigotry and to treat some families better than others, then I believe it is our job to make sure you aren’t president,” Warren said while speaking at a fundraiser for Connecticut’s Democratic party.
Esquire took on one of Wisconsin’s most anti-LGBT elected officials last week: Glenn Grothman:
But now, on the bigger stage, Grothman has upped his game. Not content with opposing the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, and not content with opposing any attempt to de-emphasize the gonfalon of loserdom, Grothman tossed both of these into the pot and stirred them into a thick, rich gumbo of blended idiocy.
Sioux City has risen in the ranks of LGBT-supportive cities in Iowa, the Sioux City Journal reports:
Karen Mackey, executive director of the Human Rights Commission, said a preliminary report indicated Sioux City received a perfect score of 100 from the Human Rights Campaign. The city also received an additional 20 points given to cities that provide certain benefits not available elsewhere. Mackey said the organization will release its 2015 Municipal Equality Index in August.Last year, Sioux City received a score of 61.
“(It’s) acknowledging the local reality that we are an inclusive community where anyone should want to come to Sioux City to live or to work,” Mackey said. “We are a very multi-ethnic community.”
Although Sioux City ranked higher than most Midwest cities in 2014, the city trailed behind other Iowa cities with higher scores. Des Moines scored 85 points and Davenport received 86. Iowa City had a perfect 100. Omaha received 51 points, and Sioux Falls scored a 24.
Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King is calling for the impeachment of two U.S. Supreme Court justices over the marriage equality ruling in late-June, Right Wing Watch reports:
King told the caller that he agreed with him, but “impeachment itself,, we have learned throughout history, is a political decision” and the timing is “up to the will of the people.”
“That provision does exist, and let’s hear what the public has to say,” he added. “If that were put up before me today, and I think I mentioned Ginsburg and Kagan as being two that had been conducting same-sex marriages on their spare time and did not recuse themselves, I would put up the vote to remove them from office. And I’d like to see that case heard again and it would come down four-to-three and it in the end it would come back to the states for that decision, where it should be. But I don’t know if the public is ready for that.”
Iowa saw a booming business in same-sex marriages in 2009. The Supreme Court decision means that has come to an end, the Quad City Times reports:
For some people in the marriage business, the party’s over in Iowa. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June in favor of marriage equality in all 50 states, Iowa ceased to be a same-sex marriage destination.
“We’re kind of disappointed,” said Rita Vargas, the Scott County recorder. “They were so nice, so excited. We always greeted same-sex couples with excitement — that they’d come all this way.”
Shortly after the Iowa Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2009, Scott County became a hot spot for couples seeking to wed.
“We got bombarded,” Vargas said. “We saw (people from) Tennessee, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, you name it.”
A group of Iowa Republicans released a statement saying they think the Supreme Court violated “God’s law,” Raw Story reports:
A group of Iowa lawmakers released a statement this week saying they opposed a Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide because of the “separation of church and state.”
“Today a group of my colleagues and I sent out a press release in response to the baseless opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court concerning marriage. We will have to stand up the the excesses of all three branches of our federal government,” Republican state Senator Jason Schultz wrote on his Facebook page.
Nine state senators and representatives signed the document, which proclaims that “the rights of mankind are anchored in Natural Law
State Representative Sandy Salmon, who signed the document, said the Supreme Court’s ruling violated God’s law.
“Disastrous decision today by the Supreme Court granting same-sex couples the right to marry! This goes against the law of God, the laws of nature, and thousands of years of history! This court has clearly lost its way!” she wrote on Facebook.
The other signers of the statement include state Representative Greg Heartsill, state Senator Dennis Guth, state Representative Steven Holt, state Representative Larry Sheets, state Representative Tedd Gassman, state Senator Randy Feenstra, and state Representative Stan Gustafson.
A Republican elected official raised eyebrows last week for comparing being LGBT with having mental illness, the Dickinson Press reports:
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision outlawing bans on same-sex marriage is a victory for the mentally ill, a North Dakota state legislator claimed in a social media post.
Dwight Kiefert, a Republican from Valley City serving in the state House, clarified in an interview Monday that while he leans toward the belief that homosexuality is a mental illness, he is not sure because he is neither a doctor nor a psychiatrist.
He said his Facebook post on Friday, the day of the Supreme Court decision, was sarcastic and he wrote it when he was feeling “disgusted.”
The post began: “Yea, gay marriage is legal in all 50 states. Great victory for the METALLY (sic) ILL!!!!!”
Instead of retracting his statement, Kiefert defended it, the Associated Press reports:
A North Dakota Republican state lawmaker is defending a Facebook post in which he called the recent Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage a victory for the mentally ill.
Rep. Dwight Kiefert of Valley City says that his post was taken out of context. He says he was trying to invite a discussion about whether homosexuality is a mental illness.
Sen. Kelly Armstrong is chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party. He says “Kiefert’s thoughts are not the party’s thoughts.”
Kiefert was among the most vocal of lawmakers who objected to having a Muslim lead prayers at the Capitol on Ash Wednesday this year.
Armstrong says Kiefert’s “rants don’t serve the public good.”
With marriage equality the law in North Dakota, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group will look toward nondiscrimination, KXNet reports:
Dakota OutRight which is an organization that supports the LGBT community says it’s just the start of a battle for more rights in the state.
A spokesperson says there is still much work to be done.
“In most states including North Dakota it is still legal for employers to fire indiviuals for being gay or for landlords to evict tenants for the same thing, so that is a priority for advocacy here in the state right now,”says Matthew Leidholm board memeber of Dakota OutRight.”
Leidholm says he really wants people to feel secure that they are being judged based on the content of their character and not their sexual orientation.
But Republicans who dominate the North Dakota Legislature say it’s not likely to happen, the Associated Press reports.