Democrat South Dakota state representative Erin Healy caused controversy in the conservative red state this week as she described the idea that children are safest in a family with a married mother and father as a “dangerous and un-American belief.”
That comment, posted in a tweet on Monday, came in response to an announcement from the Family Heritage Alliance. The grassroots group promotes “religious freedom, families thriving, and life being valued” in South Dakota.
Healy appears to be particularly frustrated with the failure of a measure to redefine marriage in the state, which aimed to recognize marriage between two individuals rather than a man and a woman. The bill failed in a 7-5 vote along party lines in the state House Affairs Committee.
Healy pouted that she was “disgusted by the extremist opposition we heard today” and that the “grip from fundamentalist groups who only believe in nuclear families is strong at our state legislature.”
The protection of traditional family values was also in the public focus in South Dakota as Gov. Kristi Noem (R) recently signed the “Help Not Harm” act into state law. The law prohibits healthcare professionals from providing gender reassignment surgeries and other “transgender-related services” to minors in the state.
Noem said signing the bill would protect children from “harmful, permanent medical procedures,” and she promised to “always stand up for the next generation of South Dakotans.”
Meanwhile, Healy still argues to South Dakotans that the new law amounts to “extremism at its finest” and says “kids are going to die because of this bill.”
The law prevents South Dakota children under 18 from accessing puberty-blocking drugs, hormone therapy or surgeries that would claim to present as something other than their birth gender. In addition, doctors who provide prohibited procedures or medications face revocation of their medical licenses and exposure to civil litigation.
Supporters of the law argue that it addresses a mental health problem and that puberty is a natural cure for gender dysphoria.
Opponents of the law attempted to use statements from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health to defeat the legislation. That organization supports early hormone therapy beginning at 14 and transition surgeries as early as 15. The group acknowledged potential risks but still argued it was unethical to withhold early treatments to reduce suicide risk and improve psychological well-being.
South Dakota is not the only state to pass a ban on gender-affirming care, with Alabama, Arkansas, and Utah among those which have passed similar laws.