House Hears Passionate Testimony on Sexual Orientation Discrimination Bill

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There was a line of people waiting to testify on why they think anti-discrimination legislation needs to pass in North Dakota, and they shared stories of how they were discriminated against by their employers.

"Every day, I had to change in the emergency shower room right before the elevator to our department," said Faye Seidler of Fargo. "Every day, I had to be 'other' to everyone else and seen as different. Regardless that my legal documents all say that I'm female, since November when I came out there."

By their coworkers.

"On the morning of Christmas eve, the second incident of harassment occurred," said Andrea Rebsom of Bismarck. "Within roughly one hour, I received eleven threatening and harassing emails from John."

And they all claimed nothing could be done at the state level to protect them from this discrimination, which is why they support Senate Bill 22-79.

It would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of things someone can not be discriminated against for, along with race, gender and religion, which are already protected.

"We're not victims," said Brody Erickson of Fargo. "We're not looking for special treatment. We're asking to be treated with the same dignity and respect as every other citizen in the state of North Dakota."

Opponents of the bill say the bill does give LGBT people special treatment and infringes on the rights of people of faith by forcing them to take part in certain activities.

"When they take a wedding job, they are a participant," said part-time photographer Clint Flickenstein. "A photographer can't phone in a wedding. He's got to be there and participate. A baker has to go and make sure the cake is all set up and take part in it. The florist too, attention to every detail."

"They become a participant in that and if they choose not to participate in the same-sex ceremonies, that's when they face the wrath of the sexual activists."

Opponents also claim sexual orientation and gender identity is subjective and would be solely based on how an individual identifies at that time.

The committee has not yet voted on how to recommend the bill.