Governor Vetoes Transgender Bathroom Bill

Mar 1, 2016

A bill that requires students use school bathrooms that coincide with biological sex is not law. Governor Dennis Daugaard announced Tuesday he vetoed House Bill 1008 hours before the deadline to make a decision.

House Bill 1008 is the so-called transgender bathroom bill. Supporters say the measure protects privacy, because it keeps students of different biological sexes in separate bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers.

Governor Dennis Daugaard says he vetoed the bill because schools are in the best position to handle any local issues and the statewide law leaves districts open to federal lawsuits.

Thomas Christiansen agrees. He’s the president of The Center for Equality in Sioux Falls.

"The school districts are handling this issue on a case-by-case basis, and I think that’s how it should be," Christiansen says. "Our legislature has no business passing legislation that our school districts are already handling in a very effective manner."

Christiansen says the veto avoids discrimination against transgender people.

State Representative Fred Deutsch is the prime sponsor of House Bill 1008. He says he still believes in what he says is a simple modesty bill.

"It’s hard not to be disappointed," Deutsch says. "I did what I thought was right. I did what I believed in. I had the support of 78 out of 104 legislators from every corner of South Dakota, but I respect the governor’s office and the power that he has to veto, and I always knew that at some point the bill could come to an end."

Deutsch says he won’t try to convince lawmakers to override the veto because the bill is short votes, and he says other measures like education funding deserve priority in the last days of the 2016 session.

The state lawmaker says potential exists for a similar bill next legislative session.

"I don’t have any qualms about getting it through the legislature now that I’ve done it once, but I have to be able to adequately address the governor’s concerns for there to be any realistic chance of him signing it into law and/or gaining additional support to override a veto," Deutsch says.

House Bill 1008 gained national attention as critics said the move isolated members of the transgender community.