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Congratulations, South Dakota—You Just Passed The First Anti-LGBT Law Of 2017

"[SB 149] signals the potential of a dark new reality for the fight for LGBTQ rights."

Gov. Dennis Daugaard made South Dakota the first state to pass anti-LGBT legislation in 2017 with his signing of SB 149 last week, which allows taxpayer-funded adoption and foster agencies to deny services to LGBT people.

The bill, which says no child placement agency in the state can be required to provide services that go against its "sincerely held religious beliefs," was signed into law by the governor on March 10.

Though the measure doesn't specify what kinds of groups could be denied these services, like other "religious freedom" laws, it can be assumed that the bill will be used to discriminate against the LGBT community, people of non-Christian faiths, single people, Native Americans practicing tribal beliefs or divorced families.

Getty Images

A couple register their child in Gent on January 10, 2015 as part of an action by gay rights organisation Cavaria on the new adoption law for co-mothers in lesbian relationships. AFP PHOTO / BELGA / SISKA GREMMELPREZ== BELGIUM OUT == (Photo credit should read SISKA GREMMELPREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

“Today’s signing of S.B. 149 is deeply troubling not only because it opens the door to widespread discrimination against LGBT people and children in South Dakota, but because it’s only one of many bills moving through state legislatures across the country that authorizes taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBT Americans,” said James Esseks, director of ACLU’s LGBT Project.

“These laws run contrary to one of our core American values: the rule of law, which means we are all held to and protected by the same laws. These exemptions encourage people to pick and choose which laws they are going to follow based on their religious beliefs.”

While South Dakota is the first state to pass such a law, other state legislatures are busy at work trying to pass versions of their own, including Texas (SB 892 and HB 1805), Oklahoma (HB 1507) and Alabama (SB 145).

“This is the first anti-LGBTQ bill that any state has signed into law this session... it signals the potential of a dark new reality for the fight for LGBTQ rights,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “These children could now wait longer to be placed in a safe, loving home at the whim of any state-funded adoption or foster care agency with a vendetta against LGBTQ couples, mixed-faith couples or interracial couples—all while being taxpayer-funded."