South Dakota Laws Earn Low Equality Scores

This week the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality Federation released the 2016 State Equality Index which evaluates states based upon their laws affecting LGBTQ equality.

It was not any surprise that South Dakota fell into the lowest category.    From the report summary:

“[South Dakota along with 28 other states] have many laws that undermine LGBTQ equality, from those that criminalize HIV and sodomy, to measures allowing religious-based discrimination against LGBTQ people.  None have non-discrimination laws that explicitly include sexual orientation or gender identity protections; few have hate crime laws with those populations.  LGBTQ advocates largely work to defeat bad bills…”  (The full report is available here and more analysis from a South Dakota perspective is available from the Dakota Free Press blog.

Again Equality South Dakota will be working to defeat anti-LGBTQ legislation that will be introduced in the 2017 Legislative Session.


SD Students Featured in Report

On December 7, 2016,  Human Rights Watch, along with ACLU-SD and Center for Equality, hold a press conference to release a report on discrimination against LGBT youth in US schools.  The report includes interviews with South Dakota high school students.

Following are links to comments made by ACLU’s Libby Skarin and media coverage of the report.


Dakotas Equality Summit This Weekend

FriendsThe 2nd Annual Dakotas’ Equality Summit will be held this coming Friday and Saturday, September 9-10, 2016 at the Holiday Inn City Centre, Downtown Sioux Falls, SD. The objective of this conference is to create an opportunity for LGBT individuals, families, and allies, as well as any interested person, to come together for fellowship, learning and growing in their everyday lives. This is a collaborative effort from individuals and all of the LGBT organizations in the state of South Dakota, coming together to empower our communities.

The registration fee to participate is $80. Registration includes admission to the kickoff on Friday with actor Leslie Jordan, complimentary appetizers, breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday. A limited number of scholarships are available.

We want you there!  Please register today at:

The 2016 Dakotas’ Equality Summit focuses on connecting communities through stories

A gathering of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals and their allies from throughout North and South Dakota is set for September 9 and 10 in Sioux Falls. The Summit will help connect communities through stories. It will create and allow a voice, a time for individual storytelling, and promote strength among attendees. A bevy of local and national speakers will take part in this event.

Leslie Jordan


Keynote speaker Leslie Jordan kicks off the Summit with his storytelling on Friday evening, September 9. Jordan has a long list of film and theater appearances. He is a 2006 Emmy Award winner for Will & Grace, and appeared in The Help in 2012.

Saturday, September 10 presenters include South Dakotan Jackie Gilchrist Freidrichsen, who will tell the story of her son, the late Chase Luke. Jeff Walker, who has lived with HIV for five years, will speak during lunch. In his story he will talk about how he has come from a state of homelessness and isolation into a life filled with support, love and personal success.

Saturday afternoon speakers include Brett Ray, author of My Name is Brett: Truths from a Trans Christian. He holds a Master’s of Theological Studies from Duke University Divinity School in Durham NC. His is a story that takes place at the intersection of a Christian and queer identity and encompasses addiction and recovery, rebirth and discovery. Mara Keisling is the founding Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. Mara is a transgender-identified woman and a parent. She is one of the nation’s leading voices for transgender equality.

Annie Loyd


Annie Loyd wraps up the Summit presentations with her story and a presentation entitled This is Your Challenge. Loyd is a visionary who builds coalitions and finds solutions even in communities with a long history of conflict. She has acquired a vast understanding of best practices for meeting community, state, national and global challenges.

A celebration with Amy and Freddie finishes off the evening. Music and comedy legends Amy Armstrong and Freddy Allen have performed together for 20 years across the United States and in over 20 countries.

Slider 3Dakotas’ Equality Summit is a collaboration of individuals and equality groups throughout the state including The Center for Equality, Equality South Dakota, The Black Hills Center for Equality, and Common Ground Diversity Group.  Sponsors include Salmen Farms and Organs, The Center for Equality, Equality South Dakota Institute, Human Rights Campaign and PFLAG.

Registration is found on-line at — you don’t want to miss this!