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SD Group: Keep Marching for LGBTQ Rights, Even After Parades

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021   

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - June is LGBTQ Pride Month, which often includes parades and other celebrations. But a South Dakota group says this year, it's asking supporters to show up for the community not only during joyful moments, but when there are challenges.

According to the ACLU, Pride Month festivities still are a vital way to express support, especially since COVID-19 blocked those plans last year. But this spring saw another range of proposals in the Legislature that advocates viewed as an attack on LGBTQ rights.

Janna Farley, communications director for ACLU of South Dakota, said they hope that's not lost on people during the celebrations.

"Just a few months ago, we were fighting, again, more discriminatory, anti-transgender bills," she said. "And you know what? You've just got to think there are probably going to be similar bills next year."

This spring saw a bill restricting transgender youths from participating in school sports. While it didn't become law, Gov. Kristi Noem signed executive orders with similar restrictions. A religious-freedom bill also passed that opponents say opens the door to discrimination. Lawmakers behind these bills insist they're not targeting any specific group, but promoting fairness.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, more than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills were proposed in state legislatures in the United States this year, with a record 17 of them becoming law. With national special-interest groups behind this wave, Farley said, it's important for local allies to reach out personally to elected officials from their area.

"If the representatives in your district aren't hearing from their constituents, they're just going to assume that nobody cares, that they can just make up their own mind," she said. "But it's just a reminder that contacting your representatives is like, 'Hey, we're watching and these are issues that I care about.'"

She said that holds true for just about any issue that comes before the Legislature. The ACLU also is asking residents to sign its Pride Pledge, which the group described as a commitment to stand for equality each day.


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