South Dakota legislation considers sexual orientation rights - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

South Dakota legislation considers sexual orientation rights

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Many states across the country have introduced bills which some say would discriminate against people for their sexual orientation.

And most of these proposed laws have failed to pass, including here in South Dakota.

KSFY News spoke with one lawmaker about Senate Bill 128.

We spoke with a state senator who's also a businessman.

He co-sponsored the bill.

And he says he wouldn't discriminate against anyone but he does believe in protecting people's right to free speech and religion.

Senate Bill 128  would have allowed businesses to extend the rights on signs like these to a person's sexual orientation.

Senator Tim Begalka said "the bill actually deals with the ability to bring lawsuits. And I think there's been a lot of exaggeration about what this bill says and does. We have seen lawsuits brought by gay rights activists throughout the country and different states."

Zach Nistler of the South Dakota Democratic Party disagrees.

"To say that not being able to sue, is a way to stand up to discrimination and say that person's actions were wrong and I was mistreated. So to be able to have that right, taken away from me, to stand up for myself and fight legally, is discriminatory," Nistler said.

But Senator Begalka believes this is not a step back in time to the civil rights issues of the sixties.

"They use the analogy of black people or whatever, well you're born black or not, your sexual orientation is 100 percent a choice, this really has nothing to do with discrimination," Begalka said.

"They have never experienced the possibility of going to dinner with your partner and potentially being told to get out of my business. I don't think there is any way of getting around saying this bill is not discriminatory, because it is," Nistler said.

And some may argue if legislation like this is a waste of time.

"There's a bill similar in Kansas, there's a bill similar in Arizona, that are working they're way through legislative bodies and the people in these states are supportive of these bills and it just shows that their legislators are not listening," Nistler said.

Senator Begalka said any legislator can bring any bill he or she wants to the session. He believes each one deserves a fair hearing because they never know what the response will be until they try it.

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