State senators today voted against passing a law that would protect North Dakotans from sexual orientation discrimination.
Senate Bill 2303 fell just 4 votes shy of the 24 needed for passage. The final tally was 20-27.
The bill aimed to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list protected under state law for discrimination in housing and the workplace.
Age, race, religion, nationality are a few of the classes currently protected.
Before legislators cast their votes, there was a lot of debate about the bill.
“Now is the time for the North Dakota Legislature to show our young people and people that we can look past people’s differences, respect them as the person they are, and do the right thing,” said Sen. JoNell Bakke (D-Dist. 43) in favor of the legislation.
However, Sen. Dianne Larson (R-Dist. 30) noted, “We heard no testimony from anyone who has lost a job or housing because of this discrimination.”
Sen. Kathy Hogan (D-Dist. 21) argued for the bill, saying, “Assuring basic legal protection in areas such as housing and employment recognizes that are people are created equal, and they deserve basic human and legal rights.”
Sen. Dick Dever (R-Dist. 32) felt the bill would be nothing more than lip service. “Even if we pass this bill, we’re not going to stop people from discrimination in the areas it applies to,” he said.
All 27 votes in opposition to the bill were cast by Republican lawmakers.
Similar bills have already failed four times in the past decade in North Dakota.