South Dakota
Efforts to ban transgender folks from using the bathroom in South Dakota are being put on hold, a conservative Christian group says, according to the Argus Leader:

The Family Heritage Alliance is retreating from its push to pass transgender bathroom legislation in South Dakota.
The influential Christian conservative group said it doesn’t plan to bring the controversial proposal back to Pierre until after Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s final year in office.
The Republican governor vetoed the bill in 2016 and has said he would do the same again if the legislation reached his desk again.
At the Family Heritage Alliance’s annual fundraising dinner Tuesday in Sioux Falls, representatives of the group and its lobbying arm said instead they would focus next year on organizing local activist groups to respond to threats against religious freedoms.
“We know the governor is going to veto it, and it’s an uphill battle and we just don’t want to fight it this year,” Ed Randazzo, the group’s director of political operations, said of the transgender bathroom bill.
The group has reason for optimism after the 2018 election, though. Tuesday’s gala was attended by Republican gubernatorial candidate Marty Jackley and Bryon Noem, husband of U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, who is also running for governor. Each has promised to make their faith key to running the office if elected.

Wisconsin
Controversy continues at Marquette University as religious right groups pressure the school to drop a LGBTQ prom planned for 2018, the Marquette Wire reports:

The LGBTQ Resource Center announced plans to hold a Pride Prom in the spring of 2018 for members of the LGBTQ community and the general public. If the plan goes through, Marquette will be the first Catholic university to do so.
However, the event has not been met with excitement from the entire community. The prom isn’t scheduled to happen until April 14, 2018, but a petition is circulating the internet, urging President Lovell to shut the dance down.
The petition was started by TFP Student Action and can be found on their website. TFP, which stands for Tradition, Family, Property, is a group that works with students and parents on college campuses across the country to defend traditional moral values and restore the values of Christian civilization, according to their website.
Director of TFP Student Action, John Ritchie, cites the planned location of the Pride Prom as one of his major objections to the event.
“To promote ‘pride’ for any sinful lifestyle cuts at the root of Catholic education,” Ritchie said. “What’s worse is the disrespect shown for the house of God, because the ‘Pride Prom’ is scheduled to happen in the same building that houses the Chapel of the Holy Family, where the Holy Eucharist is kept and where Mass is celebrated.”

The Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce named its business of the year, the Green Bay Gazette reports:

The size of a business doesn’t limit its impact, as Robert McCarthy learned last week.
McCarthy launched Accurate Web Solution, a website, digital marketing and app development business in April 2016 and he remains its only employee. Yet his business and cultural efforts earned him the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year Award during the chamber’s annual dinner in Milwaukee on Sept. 27.
“This was my first award and it felt good,” McCarthy said. “I worked hard for it and it feels great to be recognized.”
The Wisconsin Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Chamber of Commerce celebrated its fifth anniversary as a vehicle for LGBT-owned and allied businesses to develop a culture of inclusivity in the state’s business community.

The Stevens Point Journal takes a look at how a community is working to improve transgender equity:

Robert Steinke’s blood was boiling.
Normally a pacifist, he thought about violence.
He had returned home to find his parent shaken. A person had driven past their house and shouted a derogatory slur at Carla, a transgender woman, while she worked in the yard.
“Especially when somebody’s at home, that’s their kingdom,” he said. “That’s their ultimate safe zone. That should never, ever, ever happen.”
The experience was a turning point for Steinke. When Carla came out in 2009, Steinke’s own feelings were complicated. He said he viewed himself as a victim, someone who had lost his father figure. But with that incident, around 2012, Steinke’s attitude changed. He felt he needed to start taking action.
He drove to downtown Stevens Point with a picket sign that read “End Transphobia” to engage and educate his community members. That demonstration was Steinke’s first step toward becoming a local activist for people in the lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender community. Many of his efforts focus on rights for people like Carla who are transgender — those whose gender doesn’t align with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Since then, Steinke has worked with local government officials to make Portage County more inclusive to transgender people. The grandson of a long-time local politician, Steinke said he knew how to navigate the political world to get trans-inclusive policies on the books. Per Steinke’s recommendations:
In January 2016, the Stevens Point City Council voted to protect its employees from discrimination based on gender identity and expression.
In December 2016, the Portage County Board voted to follow suit with the city.
In August this year, the City Council voted to also to include gender identity and expression as protected classes in its fair housing code.

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Andy Birkey

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, Vita.mn 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.

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