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LGBTQ+ Rights in Sioux Falls
7 Oct 2017
Dakota Territory splits into North and South Dakota. South Dakota keeps its sodomy laws.
Dakota Territory enacts laws against sodomy, which apply to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, carrying a minimum of one year imprisonment and a maximum of life.
Dakota Territory lessens its maximum punishment for sodomy to 10 years.
In the landmark ruling State v. Whitmarsh, the state’s definition of sodomy is expanded to include fellatio, which becomes a precedent for sodomy cases nationwide. Sodomy is defined as “all crimes against nature,” which included homosexuality.
The common-law definition of sodomy is abolished.
Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers performed at the South Dakota Education Association annual meeting. At this time, Shawn was dating troupe member Barton Mumaw, and would later come out as gay.
Sodomy laws, including homosexuality, are abolished and decriminalized in South Dakota, 24 years before federal decriminalization. The age of consent is set at 13.
Sioux Empire Gay Coalition is founded, becoming the first official LGBTQ+ organization in the state.
The state’s age of consent is raised to 15.
Dakota Territory is formed, which encompasses modern-day South Dakota.
Randy Rohl, a student at Sioux Falls’ Lincoln High School, takes Grady Quinn to his high school prom at the downtown Holiday Inn's Embassy Room. They become the first gay couple in American history to attend prom together.
South Dakota Department of Health begins tracking HIV/AIDS cases.
Black Hills Gay Coalition is founded.
The Sioux Empire Gay Coalition disbands.
Black Hills Gay and Lesbian Resource Center is founded.
The Black Hills Gay Coalition disbands.
Randy Rohl passes away from AIDS in a Minneapolis hospital. His death makes national headlines.
Van Driel v. Van Driel (1994) is decided by the SD Supreme Court, in which it is argued that the defendant’s lesbianism is grounds for reversal of custody of their children to her ex-husband. The court found this to not be a valid reason to reverse the decision.
For the first time in state history, LGBTQ+ activists (from South Dakota Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Federation) gather in Pierre to testify against HB 1184 in front of the SD State Senate.
FACES becomes officially recognized by the state.
The Black Hills Gay and Lesbian Resource Center disbands.
Richard Collins v. Faith School District 46 is decided by the SD Supreme Court on February 25. Collins had been fired after discussing gay sex when asked by students during a sex ed class; the Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s affirmation and demanded that Collins be re-employed and compensated.
Sioux Empire Gay and Lesbian Coalition is founded.
Black Hills Gay and Lesbian Youth Support and Resource Center is founded a second time.
Amendment C is made to the South Dakota Constitution, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman and refuses to recognize any same-sex unions, including civil unions and domestic partnerships. Then-Governor Bill Janklow signs off on the amendment. As of 2017, the amendment has never been repealed.
The Sioux Empire Gay and Lesbian Coalition disbands.
Equality SD is founded.
Black Hills Center for Equality is founded.
The Black Hills Gay and Lesbian Youth Support and Resource Center disbands for the second time.
Angie Buhl-O'Donnell becomes the first openly-LGBTQ+ publicly-elected official in state history.
After Obergefell v. Hodges, which made same-sex marriage legal across the US and overturned previous state rulings, the first same-sex marriage in South Dakota takes place in Rapid City between Melissa Eidson and Misty Collins.
6 South Dakota couples sue the state over Amendment C.
Jesse Taylor of Dakota Wesleyan University’s men’s basketball team becomes the first openly gay South Dakotan college athlete.
South Dakota Congress introduces House Bill 1008, meant to restrict public facility access to those rooms associated with one’s assigned gender at birth. This was the first so-called “bathroom bill” in American history and sparked a trend of similar bills across the US, one of which passed in North Carolina.
House Bill 1008 is passed by Congress and goes to the governor's desk.
House Bill 1008 is vetoed by Governor Dennis Daugaard.
An override on House Bill 1008 fails in Congress, officially killing the bill.
Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, a transgender Two-Spirit Lakota woman, is murdered in her Cleveland Heights, Sioux Falls apartment, bringing South Dakota into the national spotlight. Wounded Arrow was the second trans woman to be murdered in 2017, and the first known transgender homicide in South Dakota.
A second bathroom bill, Senate Bill 115, is proposed and draws national opposition.
Senate Bill 115 is withdrawn, within 6 days of its introduction, due to national opposition.
Transgender Two-Spirit woman Isabella Red Cloud is denied aid at the United Gospel Mission in East Sioux Falls.
30 people march peacefully on the United Gospel Mission in support of Isabella Red Cloud, a transgender Two-Spirit Lakota woman who was denied aid there.
George McGovern runs for President of the United States and comes out in favor of gay rights, one of the first South Dakota politicians, let alone presidential nominees, to do so. He is defeated by Richard Nixon.
Wolff v. Wolff (1984) is decided, which decided that the child of a divorced couple was better suited to remain with the ex-husband, although the court clearly disapproved of his alleged homosexual relationship with a juvenile.
Chicoine v. Chicoine (1992) is decided, in which the state questions the lesbian mother's fitness to raise children because of her lesbianism. The state says she has "harmed these children forever" and accuses her of "teach[ing] them to be homosexuals." The court cites Leviticus 18:22 and takes away the mother's visitation rights.
FACES of South Dakota, the first statewide LGBTQ+ organization, is founded in response to a proposed law, HB1184, to define same-sex marriage as illegal. FACES also begins publications.
Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) comes out in support of gay marriage.
A case of defamation is decided, involving Herman Solem, then-warden of the SD State Penitentiary; inmate Dale Louis Clark was stabbed and the press erroneously referred to the assault as homosexual in nature, for which Clark blamed Solem. The case is thrown out on technicality.
State v. Lee (1999) is decided. Lee claimed his prison cellmate, Robert Walth, had sexually assaulted him, leading to Lee murdering Walth; Lee claimed a "gay panic" defense, and the court did consider his extreme aversion to being considered gay as a motive, as well as previous sexual assault allegations made on Walth. Due to lack of evidence, the court rejects this defense.
Robert Walth, inmate at the South Dakota State Penitentiary, is murdered by his cellmate David Lee, who makes use of the "gay panic" defense in State v. Lee (1999).
Hopfinger v. Leapley (1994) is decided. Henry Hopfinger is convicted of assaulting and robbing Gordon Roettele after they engaged in consensual sex, but after which Roettele attempted to sexually assault Hopfinger.
State v. Black (1993) is decided, in which Black attempted to use the "gay panic defense," but due to lack of evidence on the victim's alleged homosexuality
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