Task Force Urges South Dakota Governor To Veto Anti-Gay Marriage Bill

February 16, 1996

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has urged South Dakota Governor William Janklow to veto HB 1143, a bill prohibiting same-gender marriage, saying "the myths, stereotypes and lies associated with this kind of legislation can cause harassment, intolerance, and even violence."

In a letter to the Governor sent today, Melinda Paras, NGLTF executive director, urged the Governor to veto the measure. Yesterday, the South Dakota Senate passed House Bill 1143 on a 26-8 vote. According to activist Barry Wick of Free Americans Creating Equal Status of South Dakota, the vote followed on the heals of a 4-2 deferment from the Senate Judiciary Committee that would have killed the bill. The committee's decision did not stand and the full Senate voted to "smoke-out" the bill to bring it up for a vote. The House State Affairs committee also turned down the bill, 8-5, on a tabling motion. The full House took back the legislation and passed it 49-18. Should the Governor sign the bill, the law will read that marriage is only for a man and a woman. Wick said, "The government of this state has allowed the legislation of hate and the creation of a second class citizen. "

South Dakota would become the second state, along with Utah, to ban legal recognition of same-gender marriage. Currently, 18 other states are considering such legislation. "The people of South Dakota are being held hostage by rightwing extremists," stated Kerry Lobel, NGLTF deputy director. This bill is not only about same-gender marriage. Same gender marriage is not legal in South Dakota or anywhere else. This bill is about national rightwing extremist groups inserting themselves into the business of state governments to forward their deplorable agenda of intolerance and hatred," added Lobel.

NGLTF has issued an action alert to its members around the country asking them to contact Governor Janklow and urge him to veto the bill.

The full text of the letter follows, and is attributable to Melinda Paras, executive director, NGLTF.

Governor William Janklow
500 East Capital Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501-5070

Dear Governor Janklow,

On behalf of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and our 35,000 members around the country, I am writing to urge you to veto HB 1143.

The values of justice, equality, fairness, compassion and generosity are ones that have guided the residents of South Dakota. However, the sponsors of HB 1143 have attempted to use old fears and prejudices to whip up new hatreds and have used naked, undisguised homophobia to create confusion. The myths, stereotypes and lies associated with this kind of legislation can cause harassment, intolerance, and even violence.

We urge to you to stand firm against this hatred and prejudice and veto this legislation. The residents of South Dakota, indeed the nation, look to you to stop this injustice.


Melinda Paras
Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

For more information on HB 1143, contact:

Barry Wick, Executive Director
Free American Creating Equal Status of South Dakota, Inc.
FAX 605-394-8962


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.