Home News Around the Region: North Dakota mulls updating anti-gay constitution

Around the Region: North Dakota mulls updating anti-gay constitution

Around the Region: North Dakota mulls updating anti-gay constitution


North Dakota
North Dakota lawmakers are considering how to address marriage in the state constitution now that same-sex couples can marry, the Associated Press reports:

A North Dakota Legislative committee is slated to continue a debate whether to change the state constitution and update state law to reflect the U.S. Supreme Court’s declaration that same-sex couples have the right to marry.

The Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee is to meet Tuesday to mull whether changes should be adopted or the law left alone as a statement.

There are some 70 references in North Dakota law at present that define marriage as between a man and a woman. The laws cover everything from divorces to frog licenses.

Even Republicans say the change should be made, the Grand Forks Journal reports:

Seventy sections of North Dakota law covering everything from divorces and adoption to fishing and frog licenses will need revisions if the Legislature chooses to apply gender-neutral language to conform to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage, lawmakers were told Tuesday.

Sen. David Hogue, R-Minot, an attorney and chairman of the Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee, said there are two schools of thought on the matter, one being from those who don’t like the Supreme Court ruling and harbor some optimism that it could change in the short term.

“They want to sort of resist through not making any changes,” he said.

Others believe state statute should be amended to reflect current law, Hogue said, saying he agrees with that position.

“My own view is I don’t like the ruling, but I accept it as the law of the land,” he said, adding, “I have no doubt that it will at some point cause problems for somebody in the state. There are simply too many references to husband and wife, so I think it should be changed.”

But Hogue said he doesn’t intend to propose legislation to amend the law, leaving it up to the committee’s 20 other members to decide whether to do so.

Rep. Lawrence Klemin, R-Bismarck, said the panel could recommend a study during the next interim session to examine potential changes in more detail.

“We can’t just go through and change everything, because some of those definitions are related to biology,” he said.

The Forum praised the bipartisan nature of the debate over updating the constitution:

A rare bipartisan voice of reason was heard this week in the halls of the North Dakota Capitol. Two legislators, often on opposite sides of issues and policy, agreed the Legislature must bring the language of state law regarding the definitions of marriage into compliance with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Sen. David Hogue, R-Minot and Sen. Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks, who are “learned in the law,” agreed the state’s language should be changed to avoid problems in the future. They spoke at an interim Judiciary Committee meeting…
No doubt there are lawmakers who will resist updating state law. They apparently want to continue to make a statement—to play the quixotic game that is already lost. That is their right. But the state has tilted at enough legal windmills in recent years, losing nearly every time. Making a statement might feel good, but it will accomplish nothing.

Republican lawmakers have introduced a bill that would require parental consent before students can attend LGBTQ student conferences, the Des Moines Register reports:

A bill introduced in the Iowa House of Representatives would require schools to get written parental consent before students could attend a state conference for gay and lesbian youth.

Republicans on the House Government Oversight Committee have made it a priority to investigate complaints that arose out of last year’s Iowa Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth, which is intended to address bullying and promote education on other issues important to the gay and lesbian community.

Some have accused speakers at the event of using vulgar language and making sexually graphic presentations to students.

Committee chairman Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, said the bill is a simple step to help ensure parents are kept in the loop and approve of the content their children are exposed to before they attend future conferences.

But Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines, a Democrat from Des Moines and ranking member on the committee, called the bill “totally unnecessary,” because individual schools already get permission slips from students ahead of the conference, eventhough they aren’t required to.

She said the bill is specifically intended to single out the LGBTQ community.

Students at Iowa State University held a LGBTQ prom, the Daily reports:

For many people, prom is a big deal in high school. However, prom has many expectations and creates an environment that might make some students uncomfortable, and in some cases, cause them to skip out on the event.

That is one of the reasons why the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally Alliance and Gamma Rho Lambda Omicron teamed up to host Pride Prom on Saturday night in the South Ballroom of the Memorial Union for students in the LGBTQA+ community.

“Having a space, even if it is in college, where we put on a dance like this for the LGBT community where we don’t have to worry about the gender of our date, whether the clothing we want to wear is gender appropriate and things like that is very important,” said Ben Spick, who is the education and outreach chair for the LGBTA Alliance. “It gives us a space to be freer about who we are, and I think that’s important for our community.”

Caitlyn Jenner met Hillary Clinton in Des Moines, but it didn’t change her mond on voting Republican, USA Today reports:

Two weeks ago, Caitlyn Jenner shared a picture next to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and on Sunday’s I Am Cait, we learned the backstory of the photograph.

As Jenner and her fabulous party of girls were road tripping across the country, they stopped in Des Moines, Iowa for the Democratic debate. As the group approached the city, some expressed concern that Jenner, an outspoken Republican, might offend people at the event.

“In a room full of people we don’t know, we don’t want to insult anybody there,” Jenner’s close friend, Candis Cayne said. “We don’t want to get into fights with the Republicans. We don’t want to get in fights with the Democrats, Caitlyn.”

On a previous episode of I Am Cait, Jenner said she would never give Clinton her vote. “If Hillary becomes president, the country is over,” she said.

And, on the evening of the debate at Drake University, Jenner openly criticized Clinton, “It should be fun to see all the free stuff Hillary’s gonna give out… She never says how we’re gonna pay for it, but…”

Jenner also booed Clinton when her name was announced. When Bernie Sanders was introduced, Jenner had a jab for him and our current POTUS as well. “Just like Obama, he doesn’t really appreciate this country,” she said.

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Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.


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