South Dakota governor vetoes law on transgender bathrooms

PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota's governor vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have made the state the first in the U.S.

See Full Article

to approve a law requiring transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their sex at birth.

Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who initially reacted positively to the proposal but said he needed to research the issue, rejected the bill after groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Campaign insisted it was discriminatory.

In his veto message, Daugaard said the bill "does not address any pressing issue" and that such decisions were best left to local school officials. He also noted that signing the bill could create costly liability issues for schools and the state. The ACLU had promised to encourage legal action if the bill became law.

"I am so happy right now. You have no idea," said 18-year-old Thomas Lewis, a transgender high school student in Sioux Falls. Lewis said he has support at his school, but that the veto shows such support goes beyond his friends.

"The government's not going to hold me back from who I really am," he said.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Fred Deutsch, said he would ask lawmakers not to override the veto, saying more focus on the issue would detract from the Legislature's other accomplishments this year. The Republican-controlled Legislature approved the bill last month, with supporters saying it would protect student privacy.

Transgender rights have become a new flashpoint in the nation's cultural clashes following the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage last year. The high court victory encouraged advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights to push harder, prompting backlash from conservatives.

Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender activist and former Olympic decathlon gold medallist , had called on Daugaard to veto the bill. Opponents also used the South Dakota Tourism Department's Twitter hashtag to take aim at the state's roughly $3.8 billion tourism industry.

Other high-profile cases include last week's vote in North Carolina by the Charlotte City Council to allow transgender people to choose a bathroom. The vote was immediately criticized by Gov. Pat McCrory, who said it denied privacy rights for those who expect to share restrooms or locker rooms only with people born with the same anatomy.

In Texas, Houston voters soundly defeated an ordinance that would have banned discrimination against transgender people after opponents alleged it would allow sexual predators to go into women's bathrooms.

Daugaard initially offered a positive reaction to South Dakota's proposal, but said he wanted to listen to testimony before making a decision. Last week, he met with three transgender individuals and heard their personal stories; before the meeting, the governor said he had never knowingly met a transgender person.

Opponents said the legislation was an attack on vulnerable transgender students that would further marginalize them at school. They also criticized comments made by some lawmakers, including Republican Sen. David Omdahl.

"I'm sorry if you're so twisted you don't know who you are," Omdahl said when asked about the bill last month. "I'm telling you right now, it's about protecting the kids, and I don't even understand where our society is these days."

Under the plan, schools would have been required to provide a "reasonable accommodation" for transgender students, such as a single-occupancy bathroom or the "controlled use" of a staff-designated restroom, locker room or shower room.

Supporters said the proposal was a response to changes in President Barack Obama administration's interpretation of the federal Title IX anti-discrimination law related to education. Federal officials have said barring students from restrooms that match their gender identity is prohibited under Title IX.

Deutsch had said the plan pushed back "against federal overreach and intrusion into our lives."

Heather Smith, executive director of the ACLU of South Dakota, said Tuesday that had the governor signed the bill, schools would have been forced to choose whether follow state or federal law. She also said her organization would have encouraged any student harmed by the new law to file a federal civil rights complaint.

Smith said people from across the state and country reached out to the governor to urge this veto. She said that's the true testament of democracy.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, added that the governor "chose to do the right thing."

"Today, the voices of fairness and equality prevailed, and these students' rights and dignity prevailed against overwhelming odds and vicious opponents in the state Legislature," Griffin said.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Deadly California warehouse fire: Party venue problems included makeshift wooden stairs

    World News CBC News
    Fire crews worked through the night and into Sunday morning in Oakland, Calif., following a deadly warehouse party fire on Friday night. Nine people are confirmed dead and dozens of others remain unaccounted for. Crews set up powerful lights so they could better see the burned-out building in the Fruitvale district, but the threat of a building collapse has been slowing recovery work. Source
  • California warehouse fire kills at least 24, search for victims could last days

    World News CBC News
    Fire crews worked through the night and into Sunday morning in Oakland, Calif., following a deadly warehouse party fire on Friday night. Nine people are confirmed dead and dozens of others remain unaccounted for. Crews set up powerful lights so they could better see the burned-out building in the Fruitvale district, but the threat of a building collapse has been slowing recovery work. Source
  • Imprisoned former CIA officer fights conviction over leak

    World News CTV News
    RICHMOND, Va. -- Once an employee of the powerful CIA, Jeffrey Sterling now sits behind bars at a federal prison in Colorado. He bides his time by reading and writing and working at the facility's recreational centre. Source
  • High-stakes referendum: Is Italy next in line for populist shock?

    World News CBC News
    Italians were voting Sunday in a referendum on constitutional reforms that is being closely watched abroad to see if Italy becomes the next country to reject the political status quo. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has said he will resign if the reforms are rejected, and opposition politicians have vowed to press for a new government if voters reject the proposed constitutional changes. Source
  • Serial tire slasher caught on camera

    Canada News CTV News
    A suspected serial tire-slasher in a Surrey, B.C. neighbourhood has been captured on security video, after destroying the tires of several residents. More than a dozen local residents have fallen victim to the suspect, who has not yet been caught. Source
  • Trump faces pushback from base, allies amid Romney musings

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- As President-elect Donald Trump stood onstage during the debut night of his "Thank you" tour and teased that he was about to announce a surprise Cabinet pick, some in the Ohio crowd bellowed: "No Romney! No Romney!" Source
  • Syrian army tells rebels in Aleppo to leave or die

    World News CTV News
    ALEPPO, Syria -- The Syrian army on Sunday ordered rebels in Aleppo to leave the city or face "inevitable death," as a series of airstrikes on an opposition-held town elsewhere in the country killed 21 people, including three children. Source
  • Europe eyes Austrian election as bellwether for future of EU

    World News CTV News
    VIENNA -- With voting well underway, much of Europe was waiting for results of Austrian presidential elections Sunday between a left-leaning candidate and a right-wing populist as an indicator of how well other euroskeptic candidates will do elsewhere in the European Union next year. Source
  • 'I never stayed to see if they were dead': Natalia Bolivar, 82, unsentimental about role in Cuban Revolution

    World News CBC News
    With the help of her walker, 82-year-old Natalia Bolivar slowly shuffles over to the rocking chair in her Havana apartment, gently lowers herself onto the cushioned seat and proceeds to talk about her expertise in art, culture and hand grenades. Source
  • Authorities to conditionally move from bridge near pipeline protest

    World News CTV News
    MANDAN, N.D. -- North Dakota authorities have said they'll move away from a key bridge near the main Dakota Access pipeline protest camp by Sunday afternoon if demonstrators agree to certain conditions. A Morton County Sheriff's Office news release details the conditions as outlined Saturday by Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney. Source