Posts Tagged As: South Dakota

Lots of Trans Legal News: One State Adds, One State Defends, Ten More States Sue

Jim Burroway

July 11th, 2016

NOTES: In states other than Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee, local jurisdictions may provide additional anti-discrimination protections beyond those provided by state law. On June 30, a federal judge issued an injunction preventing Mississippi’s so-called “religious freedom” law from going into effect.

NOTES: In states other than Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee, local jurisdictions may provide additional anti-discrimination protections beyond those provided by state law. On June 30, a federal judge issued an injunction preventing Mississippi’s so-called “religious freedom” law from going into effect.

First, let’s start with the good news: on Saturday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) signed a transgender rights bill into law. Massachusetts’s anti-discrimination law had previously protected against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in housing and employment, but there was a special carve-out for public accommodations for its gender identity provisions. This new law, which goes into effect October 1, eliminates that carve-out and allows transgender people to use the restrooms and changing facilities consistent with their gender identities rather than their identified gender at birth:

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) will adopt policies to enforce its provisions, a statement from the governor’s office said.

“No one should be discriminated against in Massachusetts because of their gender identity,” Baker said after signing the bill Friday.

“This compromise legislation extends additional protections to the commonwealth’s transgender community, and includes language to address the public safety concerns expressed by some by requiring the attorney general to issue regulations to protect against people abusing the law.”

And there’s more good news: Washington state’s comprehensive anti-discrimination laws have prohibited sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations for more than a decade with nary a problem with any of it. Last December, the state’s Human Rights Commission clarified that law by issuing new regulations ensuring access to restrooms and changing facilities according to an individual’s gender identity. That clarification produced a backlash, which led by some conservative Republicans to roll hack the regulations. When that effort failed in the state Senate, anti-LGBT campaigners filed Initiative 1515 (PDF:19KB/8 pages), which would have restricted access to public school’s “private facilities” to those who are “biologically” male or female. It would also allow people to file lawsuits against school systems that allow access to facilities based on gender identity.

The campaign backing I-1515, Just Want Privacy, had until last week to turn in 246,000 signatures that would be needed to get the initiative on the ballot. Last Thursday, campaign officials notified the Washington Secretary of State Office that they were cancelling their appointment to turn in the petitions.

Map, US, Lawsuits

But it’s not all good news for the pro-T camp. Ten more states, led by Nebraska, filed a federal lawsuit on Friday seeking to halt the Obama Administration’s trans-rights rulings to Title VII and Title IX funding and its recent to schools instructing them to develop anti-discirmination policies protecting transgender students which would include allowing them to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. According to Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner:

The Nebraska-led lawsuit contains many of the same claims raised in the Texas-led lawsuit, often repeating the same exact language as appeared in the Texas complaint.

Despite naming the same defendants as in the Texas-led lawsuit, however, the Nebraska-led lawsuit appears to focus on protections relating to transgender students — asserting that students have the right under federal law to use a restroom in accordance with their gender identity. Nonetheless, it does name the Education, Justice, and Labor departments, as well as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as defendants and asks for relief against all of those agencies’ transgender-inclusive policies.

Nebraska’s attorney general, Douglas Peterson, is joined in the suit against the Obama administration by the attorneys general of Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

The lawsuit has been assigned to be heard by U.S. District Court Judge John Gerrard, nominated to the bench by President Obama in 2012. Gerrard previously had served as a justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court.

With this filing, exactly half of all states are involved with federal lawsuits challenging the Obama Administrations pro-trans policies.

Eighth Circuit expedites marriage cases

Timothy Kincaid

February 3rd, 2015

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to combine the marriage ban cases from Arkansas, Missouri, and South Dakota. The court will also expedite the case, with the first round of briefs due on February 27, 2015. Oral arguments will be heard during the week of May 11-15, 2015 in Omaha, NE.

South Dakota’s marriage ban ruled unconstitutional

Timothy Kincaid

January 12th, 2015

marriage 2015

dark purple – marriage equality
light purple – marriage equality in part of the state
pink – marriage equality stayed
yellow – federal ruling for discrimination
red – appellate ruling for discrimination

A federal judge has ruled, on summary judgement, that marriage is a fundamental right and that the ban on same-sex marriage in South Dakota violates the Equal Protections clause of the US Constitution. (Sun Times)

U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier on Monday issued a summary judgment in favor of the six couples who filed the lawsuit. The federal complaint challenges both South Dakota’s ban on gay marriage and its refusal to recognize marriages of same-sex couples who legally wed in other states.

Judge Schreier stayed the ruling pending appeal, at least in part because the Eighth Circuit has not heard or ruled on a marriage equality case. The Eighth Circuit also includes:

Iowa – marriage equality due to a state supreme court ruling.
Minnesota – marriage equality as the result of legislation after the voters rejected a constitutional ban
Missouri – in November two judges ruled for marriage equality and did not stay their rulings. However these did not necessarily apply across the state, resulting in a few counties and the city of St. Louis issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
Arkansas – in November a federal judge ruled for marriage equality. That ruling is stayed pending appeal.
Nebraska – to the best of my knowledge, no cases have yet been ruled on.
North Dakota – to the best of my knowledge, no cases have yet been ruled on.

The plaintiffs have indicated that they will appeal the stay.

Lawsuits Challenging Marriage Bans Filed in Montana, South Dakota

Jim Burroway

May 22nd, 2014

Yesterday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in Great Falls, Montana on behalf of four couples challenging that state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The state’s Democratic governor, Steve Bullock, issued a statement supporting the lawsuit, saying, “Montanans cherish our freedom and recognize the individual dignity of every one of us. The time has come for our state to recognize and celebrate – not discriminate against – two people who love one another, are committed to each other and want to spend their lives together.” But Republican Attorney General Tim Fox’s office announced that he “will continue to defend Montana’s marriage amendment vigorously.”

And now today, Minneapolis attorney Josh Newville filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in Sioux Fall, South Dakota on behalf of six South Dakota couples challenging that state’s ban on same-sex marriage. It also challenges Section 2 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which allows states to refuse to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed in other states. That’s not the only interestnig twist in this lawsuit. It also claims three violations that are guaranteed in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: deprivation of equal protection, due process and right to travel, based on the fact that as soon as a married couple crosses state lines, all of the protections that their marriage provides can vanish. Attorney General Marty Jackley (R) had earlier announced that “It is the statutory responsibility of the attorney general to defend both our state constitution and statutory laws, which I intend to do if a lawsuit is filed.”

There have been so many lawsuits filed over the past year that it has become virtually impossible to keep up with them — at least for us here at BTB who all hold real full-time jobs. But I wanted to note these developments because with these two lawsuits, there is now only one state, North Dakota, with a same-sex marriage ban and no lawsuit to challenge it. That may not last long. Newville says he’s been contected by several North Dakota couples and is seriously considering their request for representation.

Is Arizona a Turning Point?

Jim Burroway

February 27th, 2014

It would appear that the outcry over Arizona’s license-to-discriminate bill that was finally vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer last night may have reached something of a high water mark. Major companies, business group, professional organizations, and major league sports all came out with strong statements denouncing the bill in the moments leading up to Brewer’s veto. Typical was this one from Yelp’s CEO Jeremy Stoppelman:

SB 1062 would serve to create an environment where consumers would not know how they would be treated – or whether they would even be served – when they patronize a business. This bill goes against the rule that every great business subscribes to, which is that the customer is always right. It will not only be bad for customers, but also bad for local business in the state. I also believe that it would be in consumers’ interests to be made aware of businesses within the state that did engage in discriminatory behavior. Since early 2010, Yelp has hired over 650 employees in Arizona. Over the next few years, we hope to hire hundreds more. It would be unconscionable for the state to encourage discrimination against any of them.

Arizona joins three other states in putting an end to their license-to-discriminate bills in just the past twenty-four hours:

  • Sponsors of Ohio’s license-to-discriminate bill withdrew their support yesterday. Moments later, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee announced that the bill was dead.
  •  The Mississippi House of Representatives Civil Subcommittee late yesterday voted to strike almost all of the provisions of their license-to-discriminate bill, leaving only a provision adding “In God We Trust” to the state seal. This move came after the state Senate gave its unanimous approval in January.
  • Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced yesterday that he will veto a proposed license-to-discriminate bill if it reaches his desk. Earlier that day, he had refused to address the question during an interview on MSNBC.

Over the past several weeks, license-to-discriminate bills have been defeated or withdrawn in Colorado, Kansas, Maine, Tennessee, and Utah. But we’re not out of the woods yet. Similar bills are still working their way through Idaho, Missouri, South Dakota, and Georgia, where Atlanta-based Delta Airlines has announced its opposition. The Idaho bill was returned to a House committee last week, with the sponsor saying he wants to “find the right language.” In addition, there’s a push to put a similar measure on the ballot in Oregon in November.


Police deliberately destroy lesbian’s military career out of spite

Timothy Kincaid

March 15th, 2010

Sometimes I get so angry that it is hard to type. Now is one of those times.

Sgt. Jene Newsome is a lesbian who played the Military’s don’t ask, don’t tell game. She kept her private life private and did not tell her employer that she’s gay. She did, however, enter a relationship with another woman and married her. And the woman she married had a problem with the law.

And when the police came knocking for her wife, Newsome wasn’t home. (AP)

Newsome was at work at the base at the time and refused to immediately come home and assist the officers in finding her partner, whom she married in Iowa — where gay marriage is legal — in October.

Well, now, wait a minute. They are the police. And in Rapid City that means that all you non-officer scum jump when they yell “frog”. Ya know, to protect a serve and all that.

And since Newsome didn’t jump high enough, they decided that they would choose to destroy her life.

Police officers, who said they spotted the marriage license on the kitchen table through a window of Newsome’s home, alerted the base, police Chief Steve Allender said in a statement sent to the AP.

Newsome was discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t annoy the local police in any way.

Oh, but they have their reasons. Yesirreee.

As you read the following, remember that Newsome’s only crime was “not being cooperative”. That is her only connection to “the case”. She was not involved in the theft, and the Air Force was only tangential.

The license was relevant to the investigation because it showed both the relationship and residency of the two women, he said.

“It’s an emotional issue and it’s unfortunate that Newsome lost her job, but I disagree with the notion that our department might be expected to ignore the license, or not document the license, or withhold it from the Air Force once we did know about it,” Allender said Saturday. “It was a part of the case, part of the report and the Air Force was privileged to the information.”

Now ask yourself if that makes any sense whatsoever. Would a straight couple’s marriage license require “alerting the base” about the sexual orientation of a heterosexual? Or is police Chief Steve Allender just trying to justify an act that is based in the most vile of bigotries, callousness, and abuse of power?

You bet it’s an emotional issue, Mr. Allender. Because you decided to destroy someone’s life. And that makes me emotional.

But I guess you showed us, didn’t you, Mr. Allender. We all better jump next time you say “frog”.

One State Reverses Position on CA Marriage Decision Stay

Timothy Kincaid

June 2nd, 2008

Last week the Attorneys General of ten states united to request that the Supreme Court of California stay its decision to treat all citizens equal under the law until November: Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah. They claimed that if California allowed gay couples to marry that this would create havoc and confusion for the court systems in their own states.

Immediately one state stood out from the others.

Although not all of these states have anti-gay marriage clauses in their constitution, only one state, New Hampshire, has taken efforts to offer recognition to same-sex relationships. And New Hampshire already had taken legislative steps to direct how out-of-state gay marriages would be treated – as civil unions.

Now it seems that the havoc and confusion caused by gay marriage in New Hampshire has been cleared up. Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, has now been apprised of the law in her state.

The Boston Globe reports

[O]n Saturday, Attorney General Kelly Ayotte announced that New Hampshire was withdrawing from the request because the state addresses the recognition issue in its civil union law.

She said under the law, New Hampshire will recognize a legal gay marriage from California as a civil union.

Ten State Attorney Generals ask California Supreme Court to Stay Marriage Decision

Timothy Kincaid

May 30th, 2008

The Attorneys General for the states of Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah have petitioned the Supreme Court of California to stay their marriage equality decision (place it on hold) until November. They argue that citizens of other states will marry in California and come home to sue their own state for recognition.

“We reasonably believe an inevitable result of such ‘marriage tourism’ will be a steep increase in litigation of the recognition issue in our courts,” Utah Attorney General Mark L. Shurtleff wrote in the brief submitted on behalf of the 10 states.

However their argument fails on three fronts.

First, they assume that voters in November will reverse this decision. That result is not a foregone conclusion. And there is no reason to believe that these Attorneys General would be any more prepared for ‘marriage tourism’ in November than they are today; it’s hardly been a secret that the Supreme Court was considering this case. And if they aren’t prepared, then they have no right to punish gay couples for their own ineptitude.

Second, the federal DOMA provides states protection from just such a challenge. If there is any challenge, it would be to federal law, and federal law is not going to change between now and November.

Third, the California decision has not raised any new risk to their states’ entrenched discrimination. There is nothing to stop a legally married Massachusetts couple from moving to New Hampshire today and suing for recognition.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California, and Jerry Brown, the Attorney General of California, agree that this issue has been resolved and oppose a stay. Marriage equality is supported by the California Lieutenant Governor, the California Senate, the California House, and a majority of the California voters.

So to you outsiders I say: Go home. You are not Californians. Your constitution is not our constitution. Your laws are not our laws. Your values are not our values. Your biases are not our biases. Stop being meddlesome busy-bodies and leave the citizens of the State of California alone.

We’re Everywhere

Jim Burroway

April 2nd, 2008

Including Sioux Fall, South Dakota. Sioux Falls is home to about 125,000 people, five television stations, four minor league sports teams, three interstate highways — and now, two gay bars.


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