South Dakota Drags its Feet as Country Legalizes Gay Marriage

The land of the free. Where people come from around the world to live their lives peacefully and independently. The United States continues to evolve and embrace new ideas.

And with these new ideas, controversy is inevitable. Every corner of the country has its reasons and opinions reasons on new laws and customs. But this turmoil fuels the progress that America is known and respected for. It goes unspoken but many Americans feel that it is our civil duty to defend the rights and happiness of others. We are a noble and at times outspoken demographic.

Recenly, Americans have delicately begun to take the steps towards another advancement in human rights.

On Oct 7, 5more states lifted the ban on gay marriage. These states are following in the recent foot steps of 22 other states bringing the total number of states that allow and acknowledge this union to 27. Gay marriage has now been legalized in a majority of U.S. States after struggling for years.

We are making good progress as a country but South Dakota seems to be lagging behind. After all it was only eight years ago that South Dakota passed Amendment C, with 52 percent, which made gay marriage unconstitutional.

Jacob Felix, who is 21 years old, is a second year student at Black Hills State University and a South Dakota native. He works at the Northern Hills Cinema in Spearfish and happens to be roommates with a former BH student who is openly gay.

“The whole situation is ridiculous,” Felix said. “What people do in their relationships is their own business. It doesn’t effect heterosexual people so why should they care? It’s a basic human right for people to be happy” he said with conviction.

The only reason this law has yet to change, according to Felix, is the unwillingness of our statesmen and women to accept fault in denying an entire demographic of their rights. “They are and should be ashamed.”

Another possible reason why South Dakota is dragging its congressional feet is because of the religious holdings of many people in the mid-west.

Being apart of the bible belt is bitter sweet. We are surrounded by good, old fashioned people who work hard and politely defend what is theirs. However, it seems that this demographic is also stead fast in their beliefs and it takes a lot of time and effort to change their minds.

“We are stuck in past and can’t seem to move forward’ said Scarlett Maynard, a second year 19-years-old BH student. “People refuse to change and open their minds. I truly believe that many of them are uneducated about the issue.”

And to be clear it is not that the people of South Dakota are stupid. It’s that we are a group of people who prefer to stick to what we know in order to avoid issue and preserve our way of life from unneeded change. And this is what Maynard is pointing out as an issue. “We won’t get anywhere without changing a few things.”

These ideas as to why South Dakota is resistant to the notion of gay marriage are just that, ideas. There may not be one simple answer. But what we do know is that our states laws are now a minority and if the country continues on its current trend, are in danger of being challenged and overturned. And with this possibility looming, it’s important for gay South Dakota men and womens voices are heard.

Jon Hovland is Jacob Felix’s roommate who, as mentioned earlier, is openly gay. “Gay marriage is obviously a personal issue for me and I don’t think everyone understands what having this ban lifted would do for the gay community” he said with a desperate look of passion. “It’s not that we all want to get married and have a piece of paper. It’s the fact that if, and when, this law is overturned gays will be one step closer to being recognized for their ideas and values and one step closer to being accepted as equals.”