For the fourth time in eight years, the North Dakota Legislature will consider legislation that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The bipartisan legislation introduced this session would add sexual orientation to the list of classes of individuals who are specifically protected against discrimination.
Similar legislation failed during the 2009, 2013 and 2015 sessions.
Opponents have said it’s unnecessary, and argued it could force businesses and religious organizations to go against their own convictions.
Backers say many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people fear they could lose their jobs or residences under current state law.
The Fargo Forum has more:
A group of North Dakota lawmakers have reintroduced legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, setting up what could be a replay of one of the more contentious legislative battles from two years ago.
State law already prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability and status in regard to marriage or public assistance. House Bill 1386, introduced Monday, Jan. 16, would add sexual orientation to that list.
Rep. Joshua Boschee, D-Fargo, the bill’s primary sponsor and North Dakota’s first openly gay lawmaker, said constituents and the LGBT community have asked that legislators keep the conversation going. He pointed out the Gov. Doug Burgum supported the passage of the bill two years ago.
“I certainly hope that he doesn’t become less vocal because he’s governor,” Boschee said.
The bill could face some hurdles, especially with lawmakers “accidentally” sharing things like this (via LGBTQ Nation):
North Dakota State Sen. Janne Myrdal says she never meant to post a swastika-emblazoned Pride flag on her Facebook page.
But when she shared an article from a right-wing group, conservatives4palin, that’s exactly what happened.
As first reported by MeanRead blogger Adrian Glass-Moore, Thomas Schmitz wrote an article titled, The Forgotten Gays Part II: Is the LGBT On Crack? and very prominently included the image of a rainbow-striped flag and a big, bold swastika. The image has its roots in ancient Hindu as well as Native American culture, and to this day it’s also a revered symbol in Buddhism, Jainism, and Odinism. But since the early part of the last century, it has come to represent Nazism.
In her latest post Wednesday, Myrdal told followers and friends that she was “unaware of” the image — despite it being the very first thing on the website following the article’s headline. And, without apologizing to anyone who took offense, she noted that “as a daughter of a family that suffered under the said image, I deplore this image and I would never post this image on purpose.”
Metro Weekly notes that Iowa is one state where repealing of LGBTQ protections is a very real possibility:
Following the 2010 elections, Iowa had a Democratic-controlled Senate that served as a bulwark against unfettered Republican control of state government. When the Senate finally flipped in 2016, due in part to Donald Trump’s strong performance in the state, Iowa became a place where LGBT rights could soon be under threat.
Thus far, Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, executive director of LGBT rights group One Iowa, says no anti-LGBT pieces of legislation have been introduced. However, some lawmakers have raised the prospect of a “religious freedom” law. It remains hypothetical for now, but with no Democratic majority to keep Republicans in check, there’s little to stop Iowa from becoming hostile to LGBT people.
Meanwhile, a bill to allow discrimination against the LGBTQ community was introduced, KIMT reports:
It’s a controversial bill but republican senator Dennis Guth is convinced that Iowans should be able to openly carry out their religion.
He plans to re-introduce a bill that did not move when presented last year called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
According to the national conference on state legislatures, 21 states already have their own RFRA bills.
Indiana had a similar bill in 2015 signed by then governor Mike Pence.
the bill initially stated the government can’t intrude on a person’s religious liberty unless there’s a compelling reason to do so.
But civil rights groups in other states have voiced concerns that laws like this could allow discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folks.
Senator Guth says he’s passionate about the issue and it’s something he believes Iowa can benefit from.
“The idea of religious freedom, the freedom to live and work according to your own conscience, according to to the dictates of your beliefs every day, not just on Sunday when you go to church or Saturday if you’re Jewish or Seventh Day Adventist or whatever, but to be able to live and work according to that is an important principle that makes this nation great,” says Guth.
A Kenosha church is making amends with its former pastor who was dismissed for being gay, the Wisconsin Gazette reports:
For the first time since the United Methodist Church declared “the practice of homosexuality” to be “incompatible with Christian teaching,” a local church congregation will apologize to one of its former pastors affected by the decree.
Thirty-five years after being dismissed from his position as associate pastor, First UMC of Kenosha is inviting the Rev. Kevin A. Johnson, now pastoring in Palm Springs, California, and his husband, back to Kenosha for a “Weekend of Reconciliation” on Feb. 4-5, 2017.
The invitation was under consideration for more than a year as First UMC of Kenosha went through steps to declare itself a Reconciling Ministries Congregation in the UMC, which means welcoming openly the LGBTQ+ community into its church despite the restrictions still imposed by the church’s official Book of Discipline (church law).
The weekend will include a youth group reunion, as well as an interactive discussion with Johnson reflecting on his journey the past 35 years.
Johnson will preach during the festival service on Sunday morning, Feb. 5 at 10:30 a.m.
The weekend will conclude with the issuance of “The Kenosha Declaration,” a statement urging other churches that dismissed out LGBTQ+ clergy from duties because of their sexual orientation to reconcile with them publicly “as a means of grace and healing in the church and wider communities.”