Sexual Orientation Discrimination Bill Proposed in North Dakota

Lawmakers Are hoping to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in North Dakota

Lawmakers are once again proposing a bill to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in North Dakota.

This is the fourth time this bill has been introduced.

The bipartisan bill was first introduced by openly gay Democratic State Representative Josh Boschee.

State law in North Dakota currently prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, age, disability and other statuses.

But state law does not currently include sexual orientation.

“We just need to make sure that North Dakota is an inclusive state where everyone has an opportunity to succeed,” said Rep. Boschee.

Lawmakers define sexual orientation as meaning actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality or gender identity.

The bill also adds sexual orientation to all places in state law where it cannot be discriminated against, including jobs in education or manufacturing.

Those in the LGBTQ community say the passing of this bill is crucial to the community.

“I’d say I’m for it just because knowing that they could not have a job or get fired from a job or find housing just because of who they love that’s just really disheartening to me,” said Andrea Wagner, who is with the NDSU Office of Gender and Sexuality Diversity. “And I would like to see that quality of who they are isn’t thought negatively of.”

Students also say there may be certain reasons why this bill has taken so long to get passed in the first place.

“I feel like in this area of the country it’s really conservative people who really aren’t used to the idea of this yet,” said NDSU Student, Wyatt Becker.

Yet, 19 other states already have this protection on the books.

“My girlfriend’s from California and it’s really common out there,” said Becker.

Although this bill has┬ánot been passed in previous years, Rep. Boschee says there’s a few factors on why he believes this year will be different.

“There’s a lot of new folks in the Legislature so that will allow us to have an opportunity for folks to have a conversation with those Legislators,” said Rep. Boschee.

The Chamber of Commerce and North Dakota Agency of Economics have spoken in favor of the bill.

Rep. Boschee says he also hopes Governor Doug Burgum will support the bill, as he did before he was elected governor.

Local LGBTQ organizations such as Pride Collective & Community Center also say they are in strong support of the bill.

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