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Bill to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination heard in a House committee

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

A House committee held a hearing Monday on the last of two bills to prohibit discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation.

The bill – sponsored by Rep. Mary Johnson (R-Fargo) – only applies to sexual orientation, and not gender identity. The other measure did. And the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition testified against the bill because of that.

Coalition legislative coordinator Elizabeth Loos told the House Human Services Committee she’s concerned about the message it sends.

"It will tell transgender youth and adults that they are not worthy of the protections offered their lesbian, gay and bisexual sisters and brothers," Loos said. "Not worthy."

Also testifying against it were the North Dakota Catholic Conference and the Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota, who said this would infringe on religious rights, as well as the rights of private business.

Gov. Burgum’s chief operating officer testified in favor of the bill. Jodi Uecker told the Committee this bill removes a barrier to workforce development.

"We're competing both nationally and globally for talent," Uecker told the committee. "Laws that exclude or limit the rights of our citizens, or the omission of laws that protect those rights, create a barrier for recruiting and retaining talent in North Dakota."

And Johnson testified that she knew of one case where someone lost a marketing job simply because of sexual orientation.

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