Discrimination Laws (audio) 021610
By Jackelyn Severin
A measure aiming to prevent discrimination against gay and transgender people and other groups failed in the House Human Services Committee. House Bill 1144 adds age, gender identity, veteran’s status, military status and sexual orientation to the state’s Human Relations Act.
Proponents of House Bill 1144 say adding these categories to South Dakota’s anti-discrimination laws will facilitate better working environments and prevent inappropriate work behavior. Representative Deb Peters from Hartford is the main sponsor of the measure. She says these groups, especially gay and transgender people, need protections in a state where intolerance for sexual identity and orientation is high.
"There are no state or federal protections for some of the individuals that are being added in House Bill 1144. If these five groups of folks have any issues with public housing, employment or public services they have no recourse. They have no due process to ensure fair treatment like you or me," says Peters.
Opponents of the measure say this could force religious groups to hire people whose lifestyles do not reflect the religious views of those organizations. The bill was killed by a vote of eight to four.
Member stations can download audio file here.