Members of the South Dakota Democratic Party are calling out comments made by Senator Phil Jensen (R-District 33) in reference to business owners being able to refuse service based on race.
Jensen gave an interview for an article that ended up going national. Jensen did not wish to comment further, but did say he is happy with the article.
In the piece, he says he still supports Senate Bill 128, which was killed, but would have allowed individual business owners to refuse service based on sexual-orientation and not be sued.
In the article, Jensen then extended that to race.
"It takes us back 60 years," said David Patton, president of the Black Hills Center for Equality. "It takes us back to Jim Crow, where some people can go into some businesses and other people can go into other businesses."
Infuriated by these comments, the executive director of the South Dakota Democratic Party is calling on South Dakota state senators and Governor Dennis Daugaard to condemn the remarks.
Senator Bruce Rampelberg (R-District 30) says he will not. "Phil, that's the kinda man he is," said Rampelberg. "He believes in what he believes, and pushing principles forward when you can."
Rampelberg says it's not about whether refusing service is good, it's about whether individual business owners should have the right. "In his point of view, he felt he needed to stand up for individuals rights," said Rampelberg.
But Senator Mark Kirkeby (R-District 35) sees Jensen's bill differently. "Mean, evil, and vindictive," said Kirkeby. "And I'll stand by that."
He says wars have been fought over discrimination. "I think it cannot and certainly will not ever be supported by South Dakotans, we don't live like that," said Kirkeby.
An idea Rampelberg agrees with. "All you're doing is raising an issue that can't really go nowhere because it's already been decided. So why bring it up?" said Rampelberg.
Governor Dennis Daugaard released a statement in response to Jensen's comments: "I found his comments to be completely out of line with South Dakota values. I don't agree with him and I haven't talked to anyone who does."