While the ban on gay marriage was lifted back on June 26th in South Dakota, thanks to a ruling from the Supreme Court, that language that is part of the state’s legal code is still in place. It could take as much as an election that is state wide in order to clear this verbiage. In essence, the language is harmless and it can no longer be legally enforced but there are many people who are pushing to have the language removed in order to solidify the decision.
It is unfortunate but true that the legislature in South Dakota is very conservative thanks to the Republicans who populate the area. These conservatives are not likely to put this language change high on their list of priorities. This may be due to the ongoing rejection they have to gay marriage and the fear of supporting it. Currently, petition signatures is the best option locals have for making a change.
State officials such as Minority Leader Billie Sutton are fearful that there would be a fight. While other state’s allow this process to be pretty straightforward South Dakota could turn this into quite a statement. While it seems simple and common sense to change the language after the ban, this could be an opportunity for officials to make a statement about their stand on gay marriage. It is unlikely that a repeal effort would take place however.
In order to repeal the decision on gay marriage, it would take 13, 871 signatures from voters registered in the State of South Dakota. A repeal on a constitutional ban is 27,741 signatures. There is a long list of dead laws in the South Dakota area. Many feel because of this history this might not be a fight worth taking on. There are laws concerning divorce, adultery and many others that have remained unchanged for decades. While it is important that this change to allow gay marriage to take place in South Dakota and other states has taken place, the verbiage may just be a formality. What really matters is the lives that can be changed by the initial decision and what paperwork is completed afterwards might not make a difference.