Friday, November 3, 2006

South Dakotans Against Discrimination Press Release

South Dakotans Against Discrimination Press Release from the email bag:

POLL RESULTS SHOW SOUTH DAKOTANS READING SECOND SENTENCE OF AMENDMENT C

SIOUX FALLS--Today, South Dakotans Against Discrimination issued the following statement in response to the release of a Mason-Dixon poll that revealed that 47% of South Dakota voters oppose amendment C. The poll reflects the momentum to defeat Amendment C that have been seen in other, private, polls in the state.

"This poll is a reflection of reality. South Dakotans know that similar poorly worded amendments are now crippling domestic violence laws in other states and jeopardizing basic legal protections for families and their children. Gay marriage is already banned under South Dakota law, which has routinely been upheld by the courts. What
Amendment C actually does is take away existing protections that currently cover families in South Dakota."

"South Dakota law already bans gay marriage. Voting no on Amendment C doesn't change that, but it will hurt families. Only a no vote on Amendment C keeps South Dakota law the way it is right now." - Jon Hoadley, Campaign Manger, South Dakotans Against Discrimination

Voters Realizing the Consequences of "Quasi-Marital" Language

Legal experts and legislators warn that the Amendment C confuses South Dakota law and jeopardizes existing legal protections such as health care, hospital visitation rights, long term care insurance and domestic violence protections. Although supporters of Amendment C incorrectly claim that the amendment would only ban gay marriage
(which is already banned under South Dakota law) an examination of recent actions in other states provide clear examples of how made-up language like "quasi-marital" hurts families.

In Ohio - Supporters of an amendment similar to Amendment C told voters that passing the measure in 2004 would only ban gay marriage. In 2006, a man charged with domestic violence for assaulting his girlfriend had his charges successfully dismissed after his lawyer argued that under the new amendment domestic violence charges cannot apply to "quasi-marital relationships." There are now more than 20 such cases pending before Ohio courts. (Columbus Dispatch, 09/06/2005).

In Virginia - Supporters of a law similar to Amendment C convinced legislators to pass a "gay marriage" ban that included wording similar to "quasi-marital." It is considered one of the worst blunders in Virginia legal history. In 2005, Governor Mark Warner had to call the state assembly into session to pass emergency legislation to correct the unintended consequences of the "gay marriage" ban, which had large businesses threatening to move jobs out of the state because of its language.

In Michigan - Organizers of an amendment similar to Amendment C told voters that the measure was only about "defining marriage." After the measure became law, the same organizers used the amendment to issue a lawsuit blocking the state university system from offering health care insurance to the children of domestic partners in the state. (Detroit Free Press, 06/06/2006)

In Louisiana - The campaign to pass an amendment similar to Amendment C told voters in 2004 that the measure had nothing to do with blocking private contracts or living arrangements. The chief sponsor of the measure said that it "had nothing to do with prohibiting contracts." Soon after the measure was passed, the same campaign moved to overturn a domestic partnership registry in New Orleans which provided basic
legal protections for private contracts. (Associated Press, 09/22/2005)

"When voters realize the consequences of Amendment C, they are deciding to vote no. That is why churches and community leaders are now speaking out against this bad amendment. It threatens women and children and just goes too far," said Hoadley.

Mason-Dixon found that 47% of South Dakota voters would vote "NO" on Amendment C. 46% would vote "YES" and 7% remain undecided. The poll was commissioned by the Argus Leader newspaper. It maintains a sample size of 800 individual voters with a 3.5% margin of error.

South Dakota law already bans gay marriage. In 1996, South Dakota became one of the first states to pass a "Defense of Marriage Act" that clearly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Since then, courts have routinely upheld the law. Amendment C would strip existing protections from South Dakota families.

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South Dakotans Against Discrimination is the ballot question committee formed to educate and organize the majority of the voters in South Dakota to vote no on Amendment C, the ban on civil unions, domestic partnerships, "quasi-marital" relationships, and marriage for gays and lesbians. Amending South Dakota's Constitution to discriminate against both straight and gay families is wrong for our state, will have unintended consequences, and highlights the least caring behavior
of any community towards it neighbors.

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