PIERRE S.D. — The South Dakota state House approved a measure thought to be dead just over 24 hours earlier, giving a "do-pass" rating to a bill that, if enacted, would prevent transgender persons from changing the sex designation on their birth certificates.

On Wednesday, Jan. 27, at the statehouse in Pierre, House Bill 1076, which according to its title requires "that birth certificates reflect biological sex," received a relatively slim 39-31 margin in the Republican supermajority chamber. Twenty-three Republicans joined all eight Democrats in opposing the measure.

The bill is expected to proceed to the state Senate, where it has four co-sponsors.

Prime sponsor Rep. Fred Deutsch, a Republican from Florence, saw his measure defeated a day earlier, on Tuesday, in the House Health and Human Services committee, which voted 7-6 to punt his bill to the "41st day," or till after the legislative session has ended.

But HB 1076 received new life through a "smoke-out" vote on the house floor hours later when a third of the House membership stood up in support.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

After Wednesday's vote, the ACLU of South Dakota — who has threatened to challenge the bill in court should it be enacted — issued a condemnation of the House vote.

"House Bill 1076 is not about accurate vital records or judges struggling with uniform decision making," said Jett Jonelis, advocacy manager with ACLU. "It is a thinly veiled attempt to discriminate against transgender South Dakotans."

On its Facebook page, Family Heritage Alliance — a Rapid City-based organization in support of HB 1076 — announced, "Now on to the Senate!"

On Tuesday, supporters of the measure, including the South Dakota Catholic Conference, spoke in favor of the bill as necessary to resolve a schism in the state court system over whether judges have the authority to change sex designations on a birth certificate.

According to the Unified Judicial System, nearly 20 such record requests have been processed over the past three years.