House Panel Rejects Adding LGBTQ Protections To Hate Crimes Statute

Feb 22, 2019

Credit Jenifer Jones / SDPB

A house committee is rejecting a bill that adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of hate crimes in state statute.

According to the US Department of Justice, sexual orientation and gender identity made up over 27 percent of hate crimes in the country.

Democratic State Representative Kelly Sullivan is the prime sponsor of the bill. She says it’s unfortunate the bill didn’t pass in light of other legislation that zero’s in on the LGBTQ community.

“Because this vulnerable group of people is being targeted in a really large way, we need to protect them,” Sullivan says. “We need to protect the kids. We need to take measures to make sure that the LGBTQ community is protected.”

The bill was rejected by an 8 to 5 vote.

Opponents include the South Dakota Catholic Conference, which says the bill would elevate a certain class of persons under the law.

Current South Dakota hate crime statute provides a class 6 felony against a person who intentionally intimidates or harasses a person or group of people based on race, ethnicity, religion, ancestry and national origin.