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When the Facebook post of Rep. Lynne DiSanto (R- SD, Dist. 35) went viral on the internet September 19, 2017, the Pennington County Republican Party was forced to respond. Black Hills Fox was able to get statements from both the chair and vice chair [1]. Marguerite McPhillips, Pennington County Republican chair said of the meme, “The Pennington County Republican Party does not condone violence that's not what we stand for. I'm disappointed this happened.” Vice chair, Mark Skogerboe, said in part, “She has hurt our credibility. All we can do is stand on our principles and invite people to come and read our platform. I wish her all the best but the party does not stand by that post. The party stands firmly for the rights of all people.” Indivisible Rapid City finds great irony in both statements. Let us not forget what our experience has been with the Pennington County Republican Party in the last few months.  

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Ms. Di Santo,

We have read your response to the abhorrent post you had at the top of your Facebook page for 12 days and find it to be equally abhorrent. Your statement is anything but an apology for your obvious disdain for people using their first amendment rights to express their views. It is also an obvious slap at the Black Lives Matter movement.

In your statement to the Rapid City Journal you say, “I am sorry if people took offense to it and perceived my message in any way insinuating support or condoning people being hit by cars.” Your statement places the blame on the person who, “took offense”, rather than squarely on your shoulders where it belongs. The picture in the post clearly shows people being hit by cars and there is very little room for misperception. You further clarified your intent when you typed your own caption, “I think this is a movement we can all support #alllivessplatter.” We are sure you are intuitive enough to see where we might “perceive” the slap at the Black Lives Matter without us spelling it out for you.

You went on to say that you, “Perceived it differently. I perceived it as encouraging people to stay out of the street.” We are not sure how you translate a visual threat of violence into encouraging people to stay out of the street. This is especially true considering that it has been just a little over a month since Heather Heyer was killed in this very same fashion in Charlottesville. A much more professional way to get that message across would be to simply say, people should not try to block traffic during protests as it can be dangerous.

Your post and your statement defending your post are not acceptable for an elected official. While it is fully within your first amendment rights to say or post whatever you like there will still be consequences for your choices.

Indivisible Rapid City

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Once again the Pennington County Republican Party is promoting an event which spreads the seeds of hate in our community.  This time it is by way of promoting the Family Heritage Alliance's (FHA) Annual Fundraising Banquet Rapid City on October 10, 2017 [1, 2]. The keynote speakers at this banquet are  twin brothers, David and Jason Benham. Although they both played minor-league baseball they are most known for losing their reality television show on HGTV because of their extreme views on homosexuality. Of the two, it appears that David is the most vocal about his beliefs but Jason is always by his brother's side agreeing with and reiterating the ideas David expresses. They market themselves as a pair, so it is fair to take the ideas expressed by one as belonging to both.  

Their father is Flip Benham, an Evangelical Christian minister and director of Operation Save America (OSA), an aggressive anti-abortion organization which claims to, "employ only Biblical principles" [3]. Flip Benham was convicted of stalking an abortion doctor in 2010 after putting up "Wanted" posters  the doctor 's picture, name, and his address. Exactly where is that found in Biblical principles? He has been known to hold open casket "wakes" for aborted fetuses and to disrupt services in churches which allow abortions. He also espouses the evils of homosexuality with statements like, “You see, the homosexual community doesn’t want to just get you fired or something like that, they want to destroy you! They want to destroy everything because inside of them, their heart is raging against the Lord and they can’t ever get satisfied because God thwarts the cravings of the wicked" [4]. His son's are continuing in the same vein as their father.

David Benham speaks regularly about the evils of homosexuality. GLAAD does well to sum up many of the disparaging and ridiculous statements he has made [5]. Both brothers appealed to the Charlotte, NC City Council to deny a permit for the Charlotte Pride Festival in 2004 [6]. They actively supported North Carolina's Amendment One bill to change the State's constitution to define marriage as, "...between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State," in 2012. The amendment was passed but later deemed unconstitutional in federal court. In an interview with Glen Beck they claim to, "love gays but hate Satan's demonic agenda to suppress the truth" [7]. The brothers held a prayer rally in Charlotte in 2012 because, "America’s Christian majority must repent for tolerating abortion rights, no-fault divorce, legal pornography, 'homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation' and the 'demonic ideologies' that he says have taken over the education system" [8]. The two even state that Hurricane Irma was a message from God telling us to "repent" for breaking God's moral boundaries by breaking the boundaries of gender, sexuality and marriage [9].

Much of their fame came from when they lost the reality television show on HGTV because of their extreme views. In an interview with Erin Burnett on CNN [10] they try to fall back on the old Christian standby, hate the sin and love the sinner. The problem with this is that they diligently work to deprive the rights they have from others based on their personal religious beliefs. So does the Pennington County Republican Party and Family Heritage Alliance when they invite people like this into our community.















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