Joint Statement on SB 149

South Dakota Gives License to Discriminate to Adoption Agencies


Equality Federation and Equality South Dakota condemn South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard for signing into law a discriminatory religious exemption bill that would prevent children in need of homes a fair opportunity to find a loving family.

Fran Hutchins, Deputy Director said, “As someone who was raised in an adoptive family myself, I find it so sad and troubling that any child would be denied a loving family because the agency chose to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents or prospective parents of another faith. Every child should have a loving forever home.”

Lawrence Novotny, chair of Equality South Dakota, is disappointed about the Governor’s decision.  “We view this as another attack against the LGBTQ community of our state,” said Novotny.   “South Dakota does not provide any job discrimination protections and now innocent children needing a loving home will also be affected.”   Novotny said he heard from a couple who is considering adopting that they are now looking at leaving the state.

Both Equality South Dakota and Equality Federation share the value that freedom of religion is important. That’s why it’s already protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. But freedom of religion should not give people the right to impose their beliefs on others or to deny loving homes to children in foster or government care just because the prospective parents have different religious beliefs than the adoption agency.

Adoption and parenting should focus on creating loving, stable, forever homes for kids, and making sure children have the nurturing environment that allows them to thrive and succeed. Adoption decisions should be made based on the best interests of the child, not based on religious beliefs of child services workers and placement agencies.

This license to discriminate bill would let taxpayer-funded adoption agencies keep kids in foster care or a government group home rather than allowing them to be adopted by loving parents who don’t pass the agency’s religious test. This hurts children and deprives them of the forever homes they so desperately need.

EqSD Hires Legislative Organizer

Equality South Dakota is partnering with other organizations to defeat any anti-LGBTQ legislation this Session. These organizations include: ACLU-SD, The Center for Equality Sioux Falls, Black Hills Center for Equality, Transaction SD, and Human Rights Campaign.

About Zach

As part of this partnership, Equality SD has hired Zach Nistler as a legislative organizer. Some of Zach’s duties are: providing information on bills, encouraging people to contact legislators and attend legislative cracker barrels, organize and provide training on letter-writing campaigns, and organize trips to Pierre for Equality Day and (if necessary) for committee hearings on bills.

Zach has submitted this note of introduction:

I am excited to join Equality South Dakota as your organizer during the 2017 legislative season. I came to South Dakota to attend college at SDSU as a young gay man, there I fell in love with politics and the rewards and challenges of South Dakota. I have extensive organizing and political experience; from the White House where I worked with the White House lawyers and the office of Public Engagement to being the Executive Director of the South Dakota Democratic Party in 2015 to the campaign trail managing the Paula Hawks for U.S. House campaign. I look forward to working alongside you this legislative session to stop invasive and discriminatory legislation to the LGBT community and together we can make South Dakota a more inclusive and welcoming state. Buckle your seat belts. We are in for a wild ride!

As part of this partnership,  Zach will be working closely with our allies in Pierre. We’re strong together!

Legislative Page

Equality  SD  has created a separate page for the 2017 Legislative Session on its website:    On this page you will find:

  • EqSD’s scoring of legislators as to which ones are deemed to be supportive, those deemed to be opposed, and the unknowns
  • How to find who your legislators are
  • How to communicate with legislators
  • A schedule of legislative cracker barrels
  • EqSD’s Legislative Day – save the date Feb 8
  • SD Public Radio link whereby you can listen to the debates of the committee hearings and floor action
  • Updates on legislative activity – Our first one is the Governor is opposed to another bathroom bill

The community makes this happen

Your support makes EqSD’s presence in Pierre possible. Please help support EqSD’s legislative efforts by joining and encouraging others to get on our email action list, and by providing financial support

EqSD Legislative Day – February 8, 2017

Hop on the Van for Equality!

LBGT Legislative Day in Pierre

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Please join us at Equality South Dakota’s Legislative Day

View 34  /  4251 East Highway 34  /  Pierre, South Dakota


1 – 2 p.m.

Democratic caucus meetings at State Capitol

2:30 – 5 pm

Briefing Meeting  at View 34

  • Discussion of legislative bills relevant to the  LGBT community
  • Training on the legislative and lobbying process
  • What can you do? Making change
  • Discussion of issues around the state

5:30 – 7 p.m.

Reception with the Legislators at View 34

  • All South Dakota legislators are invited.
  • Free hors d’oeuvres, Cash bar.

We need YOU to come and join us to keep the dialogue going.

Your legislators need to know you care about fairness and equality.

Leave around 7:30 am CT / 7:30 am MT and return around midnight.
Vans will stop to pick people up along I-90.
For Sioux Falls van, contact Zach at (320) 293-0006 or zenistler
For  Rapid City van, contact Patti at 605-206-0479 or  pmartinson
RSVP (include e-mail & cell phone) required for van transportation.

View and share the flyer: EqSD_Legislative_Day_2017