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ND local leaders join call for federal LGBTQ protections

A Minot City Council member and five other local leaders in North Dakota recently joined more than 140 mayors, city council members and municipal leaders from 28 other states in sending a letter to members of Congress, calling for passage of comprehensive LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections at the federal level.

The Equality Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb 18. The legislation would guarantee explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ people under existing federal civil rights laws in areas such as housing, access to public spaces, credit, employment and education.

“Unfortunately, LGBTQ North Dakotans cannot rely on our state legislature to provide these protections,” Carrie Evans, vice president of the Minot City Council and the state’s first open lesbian elected to office, said in a news release. “The Equality Act is our only opportunity to protect all LGBTQ North Dakotans from discrimination.

Currently 29 states, including North Dakota, lack nondiscrimination laws for LGBTQ residents. In the letter, leaders from all of these 29 states call for a federal law to provide consistency throughout the nation and security to citizens regardless of the city or state they call home. The release stated the signers represent a supermajority of Americans who strongly support LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections – 83 percent – including majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

“I was proud to be part of the City Council when we passed anti-discrimination local laws for our LGBTQ residents,” said Grand Forks Council member Bret Weber. “Despite passing the strongest possible laws in Grand Forks, we cannot protect our constituents when they cross city limits for work or travel to another North Dakota location. Congress should advance these protections as soon as possible.”

Grand Forks City Council Vice President Jeannie Mock added, “The current patchwork of LGBTQ protections is unworkable, unsustainable, and unfair. It leaves LGBTQ people and their families vulnerable. No one should fear discrimination anywhere, no matter what zip code they call home. Passing federal nondiscrimination protections in Congress is the only way to ensure that all LGBTQ Americans are treated with dignity and respect.”

Other local elected officials who signed the letter are Fargo City Commissioners Arlette Preston and John Strand and Grand Forks City Council member Katie Dachtlerand.

According to a 2020 study, one in three LGBTQ Americans faced discrimination in the previous year, including three in five transgender Americans. A recent survey showed that LGBTQ Americans have been more likely to lose their jobs and face financial hardship amid the pandemic.

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