The North Dakota House has scheduled a
hearing on a bill that would protect gay men and lesbians from
discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and public
accommodations, reports the Concordian.
Senate Bill 2278 was introduced by
Senator Tom Fiebiger, a Democrat from Fargo, on January 19. A March
18 hearing on the bill has been scheduled in the House's Human
Services Committee. The bill won approval by the Republican-led
Senate in a 27-19 vote.
The bill defines sexual orientation as
the “actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality,
homosexuality, or gender identity” of a person. The term “gender
expression” appeared in the original draft of the bill but looks to
have been removed. Religious groups would be exempt from the law's
“This has been a passion of mine for
years,” Fiebiger, the father of a gay son, told the paper. “The
people we are talking about are our sons and our daughters, and our
brothers and sisters. They're the folks we work with, the folks we
worship with on Sundays and sit with in the pews.”
The Focus on the Family-related North
Dakota Family Alliance disagrees with the bill, saying on their
website that the bill would “provide for special status, not
equality” and would be “detrimental” to religious liberties and
Opponents argue it would allow sexual
predators access to children.
“This is a bill that begins to
confuse the gender differences between men and women to the point of
trying to allow men to use women's restrooms, and, of course, that
means sexual predators going after young children,” Tom Minnery,
senior vice president of public policy at Focus on the Family Action,
said in a radio message.
Republican Representative Judy Lee
chairs the Human Services Committee, which includes six members,
three from each political party.
Should the proposal pass committee, it
seems unclear if it could muster the votes needed for passage in the
House, where Republicans hold a nearly 2-to-1 majority.