EqSD’s  Goals:

Add sexual orientation & gender identity to nondiscrimination policies and laws.

Equality South Dakota has launched the Workplace Diversity Project, the ultimate goal of which is to pass a state law that bans discrimination in employment, public accommodations, and housing.  Right now, we’re encouraging cities, school boards, private employers, statewide and tribal groups across the state to include sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination laws and policies.

Smart employers — like 44 of the 50 largest employers in South Dakota — know that including sexual orientation and non-discrimination in their existing non-discrimination policy isn’t just the right thing to do, but it makes good business sense.  By doing so, their LGBT employees will feel their job is more secure, and will ultimately be more loyal and productive.

In this economy, people already have enough reason to worry, without having to live in fear of discrimination because they are gay or transgender.

Add sexual orientation & Gender identity to existing hate crimes laws

South Dakota has had a hate crimes law on the books for 15 years, but it has never included LGBT people.  As anti-LGBT bias is the third biggest reason hate crimes happen, this is a significant oversight.  Click below for more information:

Anti-gay violence is a problem, across the country and in South Dakota: According to the FBI, anti-gay violence remains the third most common type of hate crime, behind racially and religiously motivated violence.  In 2007, the FBI tracked almost 1500 incidents of anti-LGBT violence across the country. 1  By only including some at-risk groups in hate crime laws, the government is sending a dangerous message that violence against LGBT people is okay.

Hate crimes laws already exist in South Dakota: In 1993, South Dakota adopted a hate crimes statute (SDCL 22-19B-1) that says people cannot be attacked or threatened on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, ancestry, or national origin.  We know that people don’t always agree on whether or not hate crimes laws should exist—but that’s not the question before South Dakotans, since we already have a law.

Inclusive laws have been passed in many other states: In 10 states and the District of Columbia, hate crimes laws cover crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 21 states have hate crimes laws that address crimes based on sexual orientation.

There is significant public support for LGBT inclusion in hate crimes bills: A November 2008 poll found that 60% of adults in the U.S. support expanding current hate crimes laws to include protections for LGBT people.2

1. 2007 FBI report on national hate crimes: http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2007/table_04.htm

2. November 2008 poll data: http://www.glaad.org/media/release_detail.php?id=4842

Elect LGBT or LGBT-supportive candidates to public office.

In 2008, EqSD PAC became one of the 5 largest PACs in South Dakota by giving nearly $30,000 to pro-equality legislative candidates.  14 of EqSD PAC’s endorsed candidates were successful.  Watch for that number to grow in 2010!

Move a majority of faith based institutions to become “open and affirming” of LGBT people.

The first step in this process is to build communication channels and community within the State. Two main efforts are underway:

  1. Building of an initial network of people of faith around the state that are willing to speak and work for acceptance and inclusion of LGBT persons in the life of their congregations. The Equality South Dakota website allows members to record their religious affiliations. All are encouraged to setup an account and indicate this information in their profile.
  2. Web sites for various LGBT supportive faith-based organizations have been researched and added to the EqSD website. EqSD is seeking out local contacts for these organizations (including Integrity, Dignity, Lutherans Concerned etc.) so they can be included in our network.