Likely Unconstitutional, State Rep. Says Anti-Gay Liberty Counsel And Alliance Defending Freedom Will Defend State In All Lawsuits
Monday night the South Dakota House passed a bill that extends special protections to anyone – person or company, corporation, non-profit, club, with few exceptions – opposed to same-sex marriage or LGBT people in general, if they cite their "sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction." HB 1107 is sponsored by GOP State Representative Scott Craig, a virulently anti-gay evangelical pastor.
Here's Rep. Craig in 2010 preaching to his congregation, calling LGBT people "the perverse."
Craig's HB 1107, in part, states:
Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary, the state may not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially, on the basis that the person believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that:
(1) Marriage is or should only be recognized as the union of one man and one woman;
(2) Sexual relations are properly reserved to marriage; or
(3) The terms male or man and female or woman refer to distinct and immutable biological sexes that are determined by anatomy and genetics by the time of birth.
The bill, according to the ACLU of South Dakota, passed by a vote of 46-10:
"This bill could allow taxpayer funded discrimination and would allow state contractors who provide vital social services - such as homeless shelters - to turn away LGBT people. This bill will now head on to the Senate," the ACLU of South Dakota says.
Rep. Scott's campaign website says he is a founding board member of the Family Heritage Alliance, "a family and conservative values advocacy group focused on promoting and defending faith, family, and freedom."
During Monday's debate, Rep. Craig shared his thoughts on the bill.
"The real victims of intolerance and discrimination in our day are those who conduct their lives according to a belief regarding marriage and human sexuality," rep. Craig said. "Our founding fathers never intended erotic freedom to trump religious freedom."
Apparently, the debate Monday before the vote was rather heated, as these tweets via the Policy Director of the ACLU of SD show:
Rep. Craig says marriages are increasingly under attack. Says he "stands with his God on this one." #SDLeg— Libby Skarin (@Libby_ACLUSD) February 8, 2016
Rep. Craig says all/most of the world's major religions support the beliefs mentioned in the bill. #SDLeg— Libby Skarin (@Libby_ACLUSD) February 8, 2016
Rep. Hunt says the gay community says it is "going to war" and wants to punish people. Evidence of this in Canada. #SDLeg— Libby Skarin (@Libby_ACLUSD) February 8, 2016
Rep. Stalzer talks about bakery cases. Claims this will lead to priests being forced to participate.— Libby Skarin (@Libby_ACLUSD) February 8, 2016
"This culture will not survive if we continue to modify our definition of morals and behaviors because of some vocal minority." - Haugaard— Libby Skarin (@Libby_ACLUSD) February 8, 2016
Rep. Heinemann says the day after the Obergefell decision "that group" started to say "we need to penalize people."— Libby Skarin (@Libby_ACLUSD) February 8, 2016
But if South Dakota residents are concerned that the legislation is unconstitutional (it is,) and that, if challenged in court it could cost taxpayers a small fortune (it could,) at least they can rest assured that the very anti-gay Alliance Defending Freedom and Liberty Counsel will defend them, presumably pro-bono – at least according to Pastor/Rep. Scott:
Alliance Defending Freedom and Liberty Counsel (per Rep. Craig) will defend the state. #SDLeg— Libby Skarin (@Libby_ACLUSD) February 8, 2016
Which begs the question, who wrote the legislation, and why would anyone in advance of a vote obtain legal counsel to defend the state should it go to court?
The ADF is the group of Christian attorneys representing Washington florist Barronelle Stutzman, who could have settled her discrimination case for $1000, but chose to become a martyr. Liberty Counsel of course is Kim Davis' group of attorneys, including Mat Staver.
By the way, here's Rep. Craig wholly misleading an audience he spoke to last month about one of his religious freedom bills, claiming it "mirrors" the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The convenient fact most anti-gay religious activists omit is the federal statute does not include most corporations. But facts are messy, right, Rep. Craig?
Image: Screenshot via YouTube