PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota law will continue to say marriage is between a man and a woman.
Democrat Rep. Linda Duba hoped to remove those gender-specific words and replace them with “between two persons.” She also wanted to remove a statement in state law that specifically says a marriage between two persons of the same gender isn’t valid.
The U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriages nationwide with a 2015 decision.
Duba told the panel that South Dakota has at least 1,500 same-sex households.
“And I reject the notion that the only families we can support in South Dakota are those between a male and a female. I fundamentally reject that idea. Now I am not asking you to change your personal views — absolutely not! — I’m not asking you to do that,” Duba said.
Speaking in favor of her bill was Casey Murschel, representing South Dakota Advocacy Network for Women. Opposing it were Norman Woods from Family Heritage Alliance Action and Florence Thompson from South Dakota Citizens for Liberty.
“You don’t call a spade something else, it’s a spade,” Thompson said. “If you’re going to call a marriage a marriage, it’s between a man and a woman. That has always been our civilization, our culture, and it’s not just our culture, but around the world. So this new philosophy that has come in, that anything goes and we’ll just call it marriage, that just doesn’t fly with South Dakotans.”
South Dakota voters in 2006 approved a constitutional amendment that said, “Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in South Dakota.”
The constitution goes on to say, “The uniting of two or more persons in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other quasi-marital relationship shall not be valid or recognized in South Dakota.”
That section, which voters backed 172,305 to 160,152, remains in the South Dakota Constitution despite the U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Democrat Rep. Erin Healy defended Duba’s attempt. “This just makes sense. I don’t even know what else to say. I’m a little shocked by some of the conversation we had today, because nuclear families just don’t exist anymore. They do in some households. But we’re in the 21st century. People who are of the same sex deserve to get married and deserve to have a civil marriage.”
Republican Rep. Rocky Blare called for the bill’s defeat. “I have a nuclear family and I know we have nuclear families in this state who are doing pretty well. I appreciate what’s been brought up. But I have problems with the word marriage here, and I think I’ve always been taught that I’m ‘no’ until I’m ‘yes’ and I haven’t been convinced of the ‘yes’ yet,’ Blare said.