Noem’s chief of staff compares transgender athlete participation to terrorism

Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 10:12 AM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. - The South Dakota State House’s State Affairs committee passed SB 46, the “transgender sports bill,” along party lines 11 to 2 Wednesday.

Many who testified against the bill drew attention to past legal precedent on the matter that indicated if passed into law, the bill would be struck down by a federal court. However, Governor Kristi Noem’s general counsel Mark Miller assured committee members that the bill was in line with federal law and existing legal precedence.

“I think we have heard through this hearing that this bill is constitutional,” said State Rep. Tim Goodwin (R-Rapid City). “We also can feel confident we will not lose Title IX funding... So we should feel confident about passing it.”

One of Miller’s arguments did get some attention. When asked by Rep. Oren Lesmeister (D-Buffalo) why the bill is necessary, Miller made the comparison to terrorism.

“It’s sort of like terrorism,” Miller said. He went on to say that you want to keep it over there and prevent it from getting here.

The bill, which Noem has championed this year, cleared it’s most difficult hurdle when it passed the State Senate last week.

“Title IX protects all students, including students who are transgender, from discrimination based on sex,” said Jett Jonelis, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager. “SB 46 is clearly fueled by a fear and misunderstanding of transgender people in our state.”

The bill now heads to the full State House, where it is expected to pass. The House has a similar competing bill that has yet to receive an initial hearing date.

Governor Noem has previously indicated that she would like to see the bill on her desk in the early stages of the legislative session. It is likely to receive a vote in the full State House sometime early next week.

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