S.D. lawmaker objects to commemorating LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit community

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A state legislator has blocked approval of a commemoration officially celebrating the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit community in South Dakota.

Senator John Wiik, R-Big Stone City, gave notice Friday afternoon that he was objecting to SC 801. Wiik cited one of the Legislature’s rules regarding commemorations. Joint rule 6-H says:

“Any member of the body may object to the
approval of any legislative commemoration by so stating
on the floor of the body at any time before adjournment on
the legislative day upon which the legislative
commemoration is calendared. If no such objection is
made, the legislative commemoration shall be deemed
approved and the presiding officer shall deliver it to the
other house. If there is objection, the legislative
commemoration shall be deemed disapproved.”

The commemoration’s prime sponsor was Senator Reynold Nesiba, D-Sioux Falls. He was participating remotely, after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this week while in Pierre.

Wiik didn’t explain at the time why he objected.

Three House Democrats — Erin Healy of Sioux Falls, leader Jamie Smith of Sioux Falls and Jennifer Keintz of Eden — sponsored the commemoration in their chamber.

The commemoration concluded with a statement saying, “(T)he Legislature recognizes the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit community for its collective efforts to secure true equality for all.”

Wiik later told KELOLAND News, “It’s not a historically accepted use of the commemoration.”

He said a commemoration usually is to honor someone for a notable achievement,such as a sports team winning a state championship, that has unanimous support..

“Obviously there was some disagreements with the way things were written and I didn’t believer that would be a statement for the entire South Dakota Senate,” Wiik said.

Wiik’s objection came the same day that the Senate State Affairs Committee voted 8-1 to endorse an amended version of the governor’s legislation that seeks to promote fairness in female sports by excluding transgender athletes.

Governor Kristi Noem wants to limit participation in male and female sports in South Dakota K-12 schools and state-supported universities and technical colleges according to “the sex listed on the student’s official birth certificate… if the certificate was issued at or near the time of the student’s birth.”

Wiik’s seatmate is Senator Maggie Sutton, R-Sioux Falls. She is the lead Senate sponsor on similar legislation brought by Representative Rhonda Milstead, R-Hartford.

Noem vetoed Milstead’s version of the bill last year. Noem’s re-election campaign began running national TV ads about Noem’s bill Wednesday.

Nesiba later said in a statement to KELOLAND News, “On this weekend when we recognize the achievements of MLK Jr, the SD Republican Party made it clear in two ways that they do not support equal rights for LGBTQ+ people.”

He added, “The objection came just as we finished the Pledge of Allegiance which ends with ‘liberty and justice for all.’ I look forward to the day when that phrase includes LGBTQ+ people in South Dakota.”

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