Backers to keep pushing for sexual discrimination bill

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Supporters of a bill that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation are vowing to keep fighting for rights, despite the bill’s rejection by North Dakota lawmakers for the fourth time in recent years.

About 50 of the bill’s supporters watched recently as the House bill was defeated 69-22.

Kevin Tengesdal, a member of the LGBT community and a gay rights activist in Bismarck, told the Bismarck Tribune he’s saddened, but hopeful that the legislation will eventually pass in North Dakota.

Bismarck resident Vallie Needham, who is bisexual, said it’s absurd that the bill failed and that she and her husband plan to leave the state in a few years for a career move — but that the legislators’ decision will weigh into the decision.

Bill opponents have argued that the measure is unnecessary and could force businesses and religious organizations to go against their own convictions.

Christopher Dodson, executive director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, said repeated attempts to pass legislation isn’t the right way for the LGBT community to reach its goal.

“The right way to do it is by changing hearts and minds,” Dodson said. “If more people treated people with respect, it wouldn’t be an issue.”

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