Executive Order Protects Against Discrimination - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Executive Order Protects Against Discrimination

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The announcement that President Obama will sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The issue of gay rights has been discussed for years, but until recently, it hasn't had as much traction.

Advocates for gay and lesbian rights have now legally challenged every state with a gay marriage ban, and this week President Barack Obama asked his staff to issue an executive order to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

"This will help folks in states like North Dakota that don't have their own laws on the books protecting LGBT workers from harassment in the workplace. But it falls short for those who work for companies that are not federal contractors," says Bismarck resident Matthew Leidholm.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp says the Senate passed a bill last November that would have done just that.

"A bill called ENDA which would actually extend these protections to the entire community regardless of where you work. But this will take a step forward in making sure that these protections are extended to people who work for federal contractors," says Heitkamp.

The House has not brought it up for consideration, and Rep. Kevin Cramer says he doesn't think they will.

"I'm not even sure that this is a problem. I have to be honest, I don't get many, if any. I don't know that I've ever received a phone call in my office from somebody that says they've been discriminated against based on their sexual orientation," says Cramer.

Cramer says he believes this is nothing more than a political move by the president and that companies should be left to make their own policy.

Leidholm says he hopes state lawmakers will also take the issue up during the next session and pass legislation that would offer these protections at every company in North Dakota.

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