Tired of being on the defensive when it comes to your beliefs? So is South Dakota -- and yesterday, the state legislature decided to do something about it. State legislators have been working for weeks on a bill that would give South Dakotans the freedom they should already have under the Constitution: freedom to work and live according to their faith without fear of government punishment.
From the Atlanta fire chief who was fired for writing a devotional book on his own time to the Houston pastors whose sermons were subpoenaed during a bathroom bill debate, the list of people persecuted across the country for their values on marriage and sexuality goes on. South Dakota is hoping to stop the persecution before it starts, taking a big step toward that end Monday by passing the Government Nondiscrimination Act out of its House, 46-10. "The real victims of intolerance and discrimination in our day are those who conduct their lives according to a belief regarding marriage and human sexuality," said H.B. 1107's sponsor, Rep. Scott Craig (R). "Our founding fathers never intended erotic freedom to trump religious freedom."
Under Craig's measure, couples like Aaron and Melissa Klein wouldn't have been fined $135,000 for turning down a same-sex wedding cake order. Instead the government would be barred from fining or firing or loss of funding, accreditation, or tax breaks based on a person's sincerely-held beliefs. Of course, groups like HRC would prefer the targeting continue, and has teamed up with the state's ACLU to try to stop the law in the Senate. That may be difficult to do given the support for the measure. If the bill passes, it would be America's first statewide pushback against the gender and marriage chaos popping up in city councils across the country.
FRC has been working with our friends at Family Heritage Alliance Action to get the word out about the legislation, even helping with testimony and providing briefing materials. Like many conservatives, we recognize what an important moment this is to build on the momentum from Houston and turn it into legitimate protections for men and women of faith.
You can be a part of that history by helping to move similar bills in your state. That starts by understanding what's at stake in the debate. Yesterday, FRC released a new publication that can help: "Can There Be 'Compromise' between Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Laws and Religious Liberty Protections?" Click here to read it and then share it with your family and friends!