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Politics & Government

Anti-discrimination measure draws emotional testimony

The Senate Judiciary Committee took nearly three hours of testimony – some of it emotional – on a bill to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Supporters say members of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-gender community face discrimination in hiring and housing – because of their orientation.

"As a father of a young professional, who happens to be gay, he feels his opportunities are limited in this state," Wayne Kutzer of Bismarck told the committee. "This (the measure) can be a signal North Dakota can send, which tells all of our sons and daughters that we value them, and we want them to have the same opportunities here."

Opponents say the bill creates a special protected class, based almost solely on a person’s behavior.

"Homosexual  attractions may not be a choice, in most cases," said Tom Freier of the North Dakota Family Alliance. "Homosexual conduct and behaviors are a choice, as well as self-identifying as a gay or lesbian is also a choice."

The committee has not taken action. In 2009, the state Senate passed a similar bill – but it was killed in the House.

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