LGBT rights in South Dakota

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LGBT rights in South Dakota
South Dakota (US)
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1976
Gender identity/expression State does not require sex reassignment surgery to alter sex on birth certificate
Discrimination protections None statewide
Family rights
Recognition of
South Dakota Amendment C limits marriage to man/woman, forbids non-marriage types of same-sex unions
Adoption No restrictions

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of South Dakota face some legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in South Dakota. Same-sex couples and families headed by same-sex couples do not have the same protections as opposite-sex couples.

Laws against homosexuality[edit]

In 1862 the Territory of the Dakotas, which included modern-day North and South Dakota, enacted a criminal ban on heterosexual and homosexual sodomy, which was defined as "crimes against nature" and subsequently interpreted by the State Supreme court to include anal intercourse and fellatio.[1]

In 1976, private, adult, consensual and non-commercial acts of sodomy were legalized with an age of consent set at thirteen years.[2] The age of consent was later raised to fifteen years.[3]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

South Dakota voters adopted a constitutional amendment in November 2006 that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman and prohibited the recognition of same-sex relationships under any other name, such as civil unions and domestic partnership agreements.[4] Similar restrictions appear in the state statutes as well.[5]

Adoption and parenting[edit]

South Dakota permits adoption by individuals. There are no explicit prohibitions on adoption by same-sex couples or on second-parent adoptions.[6]

Discrimination protection[edit]

Map of South Dakota counties and cities that have sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances
  Sexual orientation and gender identity solely in public employment
  Sexual orientation in public employment
  Does not protect sexual orientation and gender identity in employment

No provision of South Dakota law explicitly addresses discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation or gender identity.[7]

The county of Shannon[8] prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, while the county of Minnehaha[9] and the cities of Brookings[10] and Sioux Falls[11] prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation only.

Hate crime laws[edit]

South Dakota's hate crimes law does not address hate crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation.[12]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ William N. Eskridge, Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003 (NY: Penguin Group, 2008), 201n, available online, accessed April 10, 2010
  3. ^ [Laws of South Dakota 1976, page 227, ch. 158, enacted Feb. 27, 1976, effective Apr. 1, 1977
  4. ^ CNN: 2006 Key Ballot Measures, accessed April 10, 2011
  5. ^ Human Rights Campaign: South Dakota Marriage/Relationship Recognition Law, accessed April 10, 2011
  6. ^ Human Rights Campaign: South Dakota Adoption Law, accessed April 10, 2011
  7. ^ Human Rights Campaign: South Dakota Non-Discrimination Law, accessed April 10, 2011
  8. ^ "Victory in Shannon County!" (Press release). Equality South Dakota. April 28, 2009. Retrieved May 25, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Human Resources - Frequently Asked Questions". Minnehaha County. Retrieved May 25, 2013. "Minnehaha County is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of [...] sexual orientation" 
  10. ^ "Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Policy". City of Brookings, SD. Retrieved May 24, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Municipal Equality Index". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved November 21, 2013. 
  12. ^ Human Rights Campaign: South Dakota Hate Crimes Law, accessed April 10, 2011