Gay rights sparks debate at Legislative Crackerbarrel - KOTA Territory News

Gay rights sparks debate at Legislative Crackerbarrel

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Things got a little heated Saturday when South Dakota lawmakers listened to the concerns of the community.   

A classroom at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology was jam packed for yet another Legislative Crackerbarrel. While Common Core and Medicaid took the spotlight once again during a Q&A session, it was gay rights that sparked the most animated responses from lawmakers.

Senate Bill 128 proposes that businesses as well as individuals cannot be sued or harassed for their view regarding sexual orientation.

One of the bills main sponsors, State Senator Phil Jensen (R-SD) says businesses should be able to reject whoever they want, such as when recently, a cake shop in Colorado declined a gay couple.   

"They have that right as a business to do that," said Jensen. "Yet they're getting bullied and harassed by the gay and lesbian community for something that is personal religious belief of theirs." 

Stevens High School senior, Josie Weiland says SB128 is a waste of time and thinks legislators should focus on education, Medicaid, and other issues. She also says this bill is slowing down progress in America.   

"Yes it does get me emotional, it's something that I care about because it's not directly effecting me however it's effecting the benefit of America," said Weiland. "It's not simply just human rights but it's human dignity why can't we respect that?"

State Senator Mike Verchio does not support SB128 but says people should be allowed to express any opinion they so choose, even if that means rejecting someone business based on their sexual orientation.

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