Senator Jensen compares LGBT community to pedophiles

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) Controversy at Saturday's Natural Resources Crackerbarrel in Rapid City surrounding Senate Bill 149.

The bill is meant to provide certain protections to faith–based or religious child–placement agencies.

However people who oppose the bill say it discriminates.

Nearly half of the packed room at Outdoor Campus West stood in opposition to Senate Bill 149.

People who disagree with the bill say it would allow religion based adoption agencies to discriminate against people who do not comply with their moral or religious beliefs. That would exclude people from the LGBT community, people of different faiths, single people, divorced families and Native Americans that practice traditional beliefs.

Non–supporters of the bill say it has a broad range with scary implications.

"How are you going to guarantee that we are not going to have discriminatory bills in the future and that we will not be able to openly discriminate against our fellow South Dakotans for how they look, how they dress or what they believe?" David Hubbard said

State Senator Phil Jensen sided with the agencies, "Their concerns which I feel are legitimate, is that they are going to be attacked for being discriminatory when in reality, all they are wishing to do is protect their religious conviction and conscience."

After a heated speech from Hubbard, a member of the Human Rights campaign, where he asked the legislators, "Who will protect the people of South Dakota from discrimination?'

Senator Phil Jensen made a moral judgment comparison.

"Should a known pedophile ( crowd groaning ) be allowed, be allowed to adopt." Jensen said, "There are reasons this is not allowed."

According to Terri Bruce, a transgender man, Jensen seemed to imply the choices pedophiles make are the same choices or moral decisions that members in the LGBT community make. This drew outrage from members in the audience.

"I'm really disappointed with Senator Jensen's what seemed to be an analogy on pedophiles, adopting to pedophile's and equating that to adopting to LGBT people." Bruce said, "That's the clear implication to me, that's a pretty clear message and I'm not sure the purpose of what the message is. LGBT people aren't pedophiles. I'm a transgender man, that is not a choice, it is who I am. Being gay is not a choice, it's not a moral issue. Equating that with being a pedophile isn't fair, it's apples and oranges, they are not the same thing. We need to think about the children. Children are starving for families and should be able to be adopted."

Jensen said he and his wife adopted a Native American child through a non religious based agency.

"It can be done," Jensen said, "There are other agencies out there where people of any background can adopt. Our country was founded on judeo Christian principals, there is not getting around that."

Senate bill 149 will be in front of the full senate on Wednesday.