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North Dakota GOP governor wants ban on anti-gay discrimination

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North Dakota law now forbids discrimination by race, color, sex, religion, age, national origin and disability. It also bans discrimination based on whether a person is on public assistance, married, or unmarried.

The bipartisan legislation introduced this session would add sexual orientation to the list of classes of individuals who are specifically protected against discrimination. Sexual orientation is defined in the measure as “actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality or gender identity.”

GOP Rep. Robin Weisz, who heads the House Human Services Committee that, said no one on the panel “believes in discrimination for anybody.” He said the committee did not receive any testimony that showed any outright discrimination going on.

Democratic Assistant Minority Leader Corey Mock called the legislation, “the discrimination movement of our generation.” Mock requested that the vote on the bill be divided into two sections: The first would ban discrimination related to public accommodations and services and the advertising of them; the second related to discrimination based on housing, employment, financial assistance and personal business transactions.

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The first part was defeated 61-30 and the second failed 56-3 after more than 90 minutes of often emotional debate on the House floor. More than 100 people packed the chamber to listen to the debate.

North Dakota Republicans have two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate.

“The question becomes, what side of history do you want to fall on?” Beadle asked fellow lawmakers. “Do you want to be the last person standing that says we should allow open and blatant discrimination against people because they are gay, and that’s just icky? Or do you want to recognize the inherent rights of the individual?”

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