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Magic City Equality advocates for change

Andrea Johnson/MDN From left to right, Magic City Equality members James Falcon, Christopher Dix, and Jorden Laducer speak about advocacy efforts by the LGBTQ+ group.

Magic City Equality members James Falcon, Christopher Dix and Jorden Laducer said this week they plan to keep standing up for the civil rights of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning.

At last week’s Minot city council meeting, people aired strong views both pro and against the temporary raising of the LGBTQ+ movement’s rainbow flag beneath the U.S. flag at City Hall. Magic City Equality had petitioned the mayor to have the flag displayed, as other groups in the area have, and Mayor Shaun Sipma gave his approval and also had signed a proclamation declaring June as Pride Month.

Falcon, Laducer and Dix said that Magic City Equality received an emailed death threat on the morning before that city council meeting, which was why they decided not to attend the meeting and speak out during the comment period. They said group members were strongly advised against attending the meeting and decided not to go for the safety of the council, Minot community, and members of Magic City Equality.

Minot Police Department Capt. Dale Plessas, investigations and records commander, confirmed on Friday that the group did receive a threat and the threat is still under investigation.

Laducer said the death threat the group received was also the reason why there was an increased police presence at the city council meeting that night. They said they are grateful for the support they received from Mayor Sipma and particularly from city council member Carrie Evans and the many positive comments they have received since the city council meeting, but they want to make it clear that Magic City Equality members raised the flag and were the ones who went through the process to request the proclamation. They are taking a stand and plan to maintain their momentum.

“Magic City Equality is not done yet,” said Laducer. “… The death threat is not going to stop us.” The three men said they plan to “amplify their message” of equality even more in the coming weeks.

Last month, the group successfully advocated for the legalization of gay marriage on the Turtle Mountain Reservation. Laducer, who is an enrolled tribal member, said he believes that is now the only reservation in the state where gay marriage is legal.

Their advocacy for the change in tribal law, as well as the response to the raising of the flag has attracted both national and international news coverage attention. The men say it has helped center the group as a civil rights advisor, leader and driving force for LGBTQ+ rights in the state.

“We’re not just support services for the LGBT community, but also advocating for policy change and real change down to the nitty gritty,” said Falcon.

The group has provided financial support and assistance to other LGBTQ+ groups in the state as well as providing a support group and other activities for people in the Minot area. They also have started offering a college scholarship to be awarded to a student who is either a member of the group or an ally, said Dix.

They also plan to continue to advocate for other changes in state law and policy that impacts people who are LGBTQ+.

Laducer said he wishes he could have responded to a person who posted a comment online about the flag controversy to the effect that his voice is being taken away by the LGBTQ+ community because he is a “white, straight male”

“My response to that (is) ‘Good. Sit down and learn now. It’s time for you to learn,'” said Laducer. “… It’s time for people to acknowledge that just because you’re different doesn’t mean your voice is less than their peer. We are done with that game and we are going to fight that to the death.”

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