Around the Region: Alleged anti-gay assault at UND prompts investigation


North Dakota
A North Dakota man says he was assaulted by members of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity at the University of North Dakota last week, the Forum News Service reports:

Police are investigating allegations of a hate crime at a University of North Dakota fraternity after a non-student says he was stripped of his clothes, assaulted and pelted with anti-gay slurs early Sunday outside the fraternity house.

Haakon Gisvold reported to the UND Police Department Monday he was assaulted by multiple men in the early hours of Sunday morning outside the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity while the men allegedly hurled insults regarding his sexual orientation at him.

The national chapter of the fraternity put the UND chapter on limited operations following the alleged assault, WDAZ notes:

Today Lambda Chi Alpha’s national office issued a statement saying, “We are taking this alleged incident extremely seriously, and although there isn’t any sufficient information to support the claims, we are working in partnership with the university and local law enforcement to ensure an immediate and thorough investigation.”
The international headquarters then put on the UND chapter on “limited operations” meaning all formal activities have been halted.

Police are investigating the assault which many are calling a hate crime, according to the Grand Forks Herald:

“We were informed by the victim that people with the assault had made comments regarding sexual orientation,” UND sergeant Danny Weigel said.
The victim, who is openly gay, said he went to a party at the frat with friends. That’s when he claims the fraternity brothers told him to leave because of his outfit and sexual orientation. The victim said once outside, he was pushed to the ground, choked and whipped with his own belt while anti-gay slurs were yelled at him. If the allegations are true, police say this could be treated as a hate crime.
“If you label something a hate crime it has to be labeled based on the fact that the suspect knew that that person was something. Whether it was based on race or religion or whatnot,” Weigel said.

The talk of investigating the alleged hate crime has North Dakota press noting that the state does not have a hate crimes law covering sexual orientation or gender identity. Forum News Service notes:

North Dakota is one of about 20 states that hasn’t enacted hate crime legislation that includes crimes motivated by one’s sexual orientation, according to a 2013 infographic from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
While North Dakota outlaws injuring or intimidating another person in public places based on their sex, race, religion and national origin, the law does not include sexual orientation.
In 2011, state legislators introduced a bill that would have increased penalties for those convicted of hate crimes, including against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, but the bill garnered a do-not-pass recommendation in committee and failed in the Senate.

South Dakota
Despite controversy in other states, South Dakota’s processing of marriage licenses for same-sex couples is going smoothly, KELO reports:

State Attorney General Marty Jackley says over 50 gay marriage licenses have been issued in South Dakota without incident since the Supreme Court ruling. He says South Dakota’s realistic approach allows constitutional rights to co-exist.
A county official in Kentucky is refusing to issue same-sex licenses based on her religious beliefs. Jackley says in South Dakota if a county worker has religious objections, another worker in the office will issue the license. He has not heard of this happening yet in South Dakota, but in any event, such licenses are being issued without controversy, and without law enforcement or the courts having to get involved.

Same-sex couples held a mass wedding at Mount Rushmore, the Associated Press reports:

Seven gay couples exchanged vows and another couple renewed their vows Sunday during a group wedding at Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
The celebration of this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage took place in the amphitheater overlooked by the presidential mountain carving.
Coordinator Nancy Rosenbrahn renewed vows with her wife, Jennie. The couple had married in Minnesota because same-sex marriage was not legal in South Dakota. She says she’s happy to finally exchange vows in her home state.

The Wisconsin Gazette notes that there are significant barriers to care for transgender Wisconsinites in Dane County:

Transgender* people face major barriers to proper health care in Dane County. Estimates suggest that 0.3 percent of the population is transgender, and many will seek some form of medical care for gender transition, such as hormone therapy or gender confirming surgery.
This care is essential to our health and well-being and insurance coverage for it has been proven not to increase overall costs or premiums.
Yet nearly all of Dane County’s local insurance providers have “trans exclusion” policies, denying transgender patients otherwise standard medical care if the person is using it for gender transition. For example, a cisgender (non-transgender) woman can get hormone medication during menopause, but a transgender woman needing this medication for transition will be denied, specifically because she is transgender.

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