South Dakota
South Dakota lawmakers continue to push for a trio of anti-LGBT bills. The South Dakota House passed a “religious freedom” bill intended to give religious people and businesses the right to turn away LGBT people without consequence.

The Argus Leader has the details:

The South Dakota House of Representatives advanced a measure on a 46-10 vote Monday that would allow people or organizations to discriminate against same-sex couples, unmarried pregnant women or transgender people without jeopardizing state contracts or employment.
The bill’s sponsor Rep. Scott Craig, R-Rapid City, said the proposal is about protecting freedom of speech for those with conservative views, but opponents warned the legislation, if approved, would endorse discrimination and could put the state in violation of federal law.
“The real victims of intolerance and discrimination in our day are those who conduct their lives according to a belief regarding marriage and human sexuality,” Craig said. “Our founding fathers never intended erotic freedom to trump religious freedom.”

The Human Rights Campaign condemned the vote:

Today, HRC condemned a vote last night by the South Dakota House of Representatives on yet another extreme measure attacking LGBT South Dakotans. By a vote of 46 to 10, the chamber passed HB 1107 – legislation that would explicitly authorize recipients of taxpayer funds or other state recognition to discriminate against same-sex couples, transgender people, and single mothers.
HB 1107 is the second piece of anti-LGBT legislation that the South Dakota House of Representatives has passed this year. Just last month, the House passed HB 1008 – a deplorable attempt to prevent transgender students in public schools from using restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity.
“Anti-equality lawmakers in the South Dakota House of Representatives are sending a shameful message of intolerance and discrimination in the Mount Rushmore State,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “With far-reaching implications, HB 1107 would explicitly authorize taxpayer-funded discrimination against same-sex couples, transgender South Dakotans, and single mothers. This deplorable attack on basic fairness and equality must be stopped, and we call on the state’s Senators to block both of the anti-LGBT bills passed by the House before they threaten the rights and dignity of the state’s LGBT residents and visitors, and jeopardize South Dakota’s reputation and economic prospects.”

The New Civil Rights Movement took a look at the Republican sponsor of the bill — who also happens to be a pastor — and posted video of him demonizing LGBT people:

Monday night the South Dakota House passed a bill that extends special protections to anyone – person or company, corporation, non-profit, club, with few exceptions – opposed to same-sex marriage or LGBT people in general, if they cite their “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.” HB 1107 is sponsored by GOP State Representative Scott Craig, a virulently anti-gay evangelical pastor.
Here’s Rep. Craig in 2010 preaching to his congregation, calling LGBT people “the perverse.”

The Human Rights Campaign urged South Dakota lawmakers not to pass an anti-transgender bill:

“This legislation is disturbing, shocking, and outrageous,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “It serves no other purpose than to directly attack transgender children and could have catastrophic consequences. The Senate must stop this vile legislation dead in its tracks, and Governor Daugaard should vow to veto it if it reaches his desk.”
“Some of our politicians are more concerned with legislating school bathrooms than focusing on the issues that South Dakotans really care about,” said ACLU of South Dakota Executive Director Heather Smith. “H.B. 1008 would do nothing to help protect anyone’s privacy — but it would to do real harm to already vulnerable transgender students, singling them out from their peers and sending the dangerous message that it’s ok to target and discriminate against those who are different. We hope going forward that the legislature will embrace all students and support the issues that our students across South Dakota feel are important.”

Stu Whitney, columnist for the Argus Leader, spoke out against the bill:

Pending bills in Pierre would violate federal Title IX guidelines by keeping transgender students from using restrooms aligned with their gender identity or participating in sports in relation to that identity. Another proposal prevents government agencies from recognizing a gender other than what appears on a person’s birth certificate.

At a legislative event last week, Sen. David Omdahl, R-Sioux Falls, made headlines and drew gasps from the crowd by saying that transgender individuals are “twisted,” while Rep. Steve Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls, called transgender identity a “choice of lifestyle” that only serves to “perpetuate confusion.”

Argus Leader columnist John Hult also took issue with the bill by relating a simple lesson on gender and sex:

Sex and gender aren’t always the same thing.

Sex refers to the biological characteristics a child is born with. Gender is a cultural construct, defined differently from era to era and culture to culture. It can refer to biological sex, but it doesn’t always match up.

The concept is part of any cultural anthropology class, but misconceptions, particularly in Western cultures, are still common, according to University of South Dakota anthropology professor Silvana Rosenfeld. Gender roles have traditionally been defined in binary terms, he said.

In South Dakota, the state legislature has been debating transgender bathrooms, gender listings on state-issued documents and transgender policy for athletics.

“In anthropology, it has a lot more to do with expectations for behavior,” Rosenfeld said. “These things are dynamic.”

The Advocate wonders if South Dakota has become America’s most anti-LGBT state:

South Dakota is making a name for itself as what may be America’s most anti-LGBT state. The Senate Education Committee today passed a new bathroom bill that would adversely impact transgender students. But that was just one measure in a week full of anti-LGBT actions by state lawmakers.
On Monday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed House Bill 1107, which the Human Rights Campaign called “extreme” legislation that if signed into law would authorize recipients of taxpayer funds to discriminate against same-sex couples, transgender people, and single mothers. Specifically, it would prevent the state from taking any punitive action against any entity that discriminates because of religious beliefs about sexuality, gender, and marriage.

The Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan called the bills “un-American”:

This trio of bills seeks to keep South Dakota firmly rooted in the past, immune apparently from the onslaught of changing ideas, enlightened acceptance and growth.
That speaks well of us, doesn’t it?
In regards to the “immunity” measure, it should be pointed out that an LGBT individual typically doesn’t want a job with a business, for example, in order to force his/her lifestyle views and values on the business owner. However, the bill would allow a business to inflict its values with impunity on people who might be qualified for a job but are “different.” There would be no sanction, such as a lost state contract; there would be no consequence. It would instead receive the state’s de facto blessing. In could be argued that this legislation seeks to prevent state and local governments from doing to businesses and organizations what those businesses and organizations wish to do to others.
That’s wrong. That’s unfair. That’s un-American.
But it could be South Dakota’s approved way of doing business.
Hopefully, lawmakers derail these measures this session. It’s time to catch up with the 21st century on cultural issues.

“South Dakota Nears Dangerous Precedent” warned Human Rights Watch:

South Dakota has moved one step closer to becoming the first US state to bar transgender youth from the bathrooms where they are safe and comfortable.

HB 1008, which has been approved by the House and is now before the state’s Senate, would restrict bathroom and locker room access for transgender students in schools. It would also bar schools from finding ways to accommodate that access in shared facilities that match the student’s gender identity even if the school wants to. After the House vote, legislators made public statements calling transgender people “unfortunate” and “twisted” – voicing animus and misunderstandings that have characterized debates over similar measures across the country.
The bill advanced yesterday, with the Senate Education Committee voting 4-2 to send HB 1008 to the Senate floor.

An Iowa State University fraternity is teaming up with an historically gay fraternity for a drag show to demonstrate inclusivity, the Iowa State Daily reports:

The Delta Lambda Phi Drag Show will hit Iowa State on Saturday night.
The fraternity has been at Iowa State since 2006 but will do a new philanthropy this year.
“One of the things that we pride ourselves on is being inclusive,” said Blake Wilson, sophomore in communications and event organizer. “I think this will help promote our cause.”
The drag show will take place at 9 p.m. Saturday in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union. It will feature brothers of Delta Lambda Phi as the performers.
“I thinks its going to be fun,” Wilson said. “It’s something that most people aren’t used to seeing their fellow greek members do.”
The Delta Lambda Phi ISU homepage describes its fraternity as an “inclusive and diverse environment” and is open to people of all sexual orientations.

Iowa’s largest LGBT group, One Iowa, has set a date for its annual gala:

On April 1st, 2016, One Iowa will host our biggest event of the year celebrating equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Iowans. In addition, we will recognize our groundbreaking programs as we strengthen our commitment to move LGBT equality forward.
We invite you to attend One Iowa’s 7th Annual Gala Celebration, and invest in this important work to help us reach our goal of full equality for all LGBT Iowans.
One Iowa has expanded its mission and focus beyond marriage equality to reach every aspect of the LGBT community, young and old, “from cradle to grave.” We invite you to join us in this celebration of our work even as we recognize how much further we have to go.
After the Gala celebration, there will be an exclusive after party featuring a local band and a cash bar. Hosts and guests will be invited to attend the after party, but discounted tickets are available for those who wish to attend the after party only.

North Dakota
North Dakota’s only LGBT member of the Legislature has a challenger, the Fargo Forum reports:

Gail Nelson, owner of a private counseling practice, announced Friday that she is running for the state House representing District 44, which covers northeast Fargo.
Nelson, a Republican, seeks to unseat Democratic Rep. Joshua Boschee, the first openly gay candidate elected to the North Dakota Legislature, who has been in office since 2013.
She said in a statement that she looks forward to serving alongside Republican Rep. Blair Thoreson and Republican Sen. Tim Flakoll, who also represent District 44.
Nelson owns Journey Counseling and appears regularly on KVLY’s “North Dakota Today” show to speak about mental health education.

The Canadian Gay Culring Championships were held in Winnipeg over the weekend, the Shaw Media reports:

Teams from nine LGBT curling leagues across Canada are competing for the 2016 Canadian Gay Curling Championships this weekend in Winnipeg.

The 11th annual Canadian Gay Curling Championships consists of 16 teams, all vying to take the national title from the reigning champions from Vancouver. A different kind of pride is also at stake as a team from Manitoba has never won the title.

“Manitoba came second last year and we came third eight years ago,” said Joel Marcon, skip of Team Manitoba.

“We’re hoping we can finally put Manitoba and Winnipeg on the mantle this year.”

Homophobia and Transphobia are a problem in Manitoba’s health care system, the CBC reports:

Almost all lesbian and queer-identified women who participated in a Manitoba study reported experiencing homophobia or transphobia when accessing health-care services in the province.

The University of Manitoba’s Deborah McPhail, who trains medical students in LGBT health care, and Claudyne Chevrier, a graduate student in community health sciences, conducted the study in 2015.

It involved interviewing more than 40 women in Winnipeg, asking questions about how participants’ sexual and gender identities impacted their health-care experiences.

Overall, the study found that mandatory training for all health-care staff — everyone from doctors to receptionists — is necessary in health-care facilities in the province and beyond.

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