Equal rights rally held in Rapid City - KOTA Territory News

Equal rights rally sends message to legislature

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It's been one of the most controversial bills this legislative session. Some are calling it discriminatory, while supporters say Senate Bill 128 protects people's First Amendment rights.

In direct response to the proposed SB128, a classic freedom of speech versus equality case, the Black Hills Center for Equality hosted an equal rights rally in Rapid City Monday.

As music played, hundreds converge on Main Street Square, waving signs to send a message about equality.

"We're tired of things like this happening in South Dakota and no one was fighting back," said President of Black Hills State University Gay-Straight Alliance, Joseph Geyer. "And we decided that it was our time to finally fight back."

SB128 aims to protect businesses and individuals regarding free speech. If passed, it would allow the refusal of services to individuals or couples based on sexual orientation.

But some say that's unconstitutional and unfair.

"How do you tell when someone is of a different sexual orientation?" asked onlooker Kameron Ward.

Supporters of the bill say the First Amendment gives people power to deny business.

In a phone interview with Representative Don Kopp (R-35), he says SB128 is fair, and not an act of discrimination.

"It is completely discriminatory," said Geyer. "If you interchange same–sex couples, or same–sex people with any race or gender, there wouldn't even be a question of whether it would be in the legislation or not."

We did reach out to the South Dakota Retailers Association for comment; they did not call us back.

Click here to real all of SB128.

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