Senate Dem-NPL Leadership Urges Rejection of Amendments which would make SB 2252 a “Pro-Discrimination” Bill

(BISMARCK, N.D.) – North Dakota Senate Dem-NPL leadership today urged a no vote on recent amendments to SB 2252, legislation which seeks to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation. The “hog house” amendments to the bill, passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee late Tuesday, not only completely eliminate protections for those who suffer discrimination based on sexual orientation, but also widen discrimination on the basis of age and limit remedies to those who have proved they were terminated from employment because of their race, gender, religion or for other discriminatory reasons.

“We introduced this bill on a bipartisan basis to prevent discrimination,” Senate Dem-NPL Leader Mac Schneider said. “Somewhat stunningly, the amendment would permit discrimination against more people on the basis of age. If these amendments pass, it actually becomes a pro-discrimination bill.”

Under the amendments to SB 2252, the legislation would no longer amend the North Dakota Fair Housing Act and the North Dakota Human Rights Act to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Instead, the amended bill would state that North Dakota does not “condone discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation[,]” while making clear that those discriminated against on that basis have no legal protection or recourse under state law. Specifically, the amendments state that there is no “right to a cause of action for damages for a claim of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation” and that the bill would not “create any rights or protections with respect to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation[.]”

“That is literally the definition of ‘condoning’ discrimination,” Schneider added.

Furthermore, the bill changes two key provisions of the Human Rights Act, both of which are wholly unrelated to the issue of discrimination based on sexual orientation. First, the amendment changes the legal definition of “Age” for purposes of determining age discrimination from “at least forty years of age” to at least “fifty-five years of age.” Should the statute become law, in other words, an employer could legally terminate a 54 year old employee purely because of his or her age.

Second, the bill seeks to limit remedies provided under existing law to those who prove discrimination at an administrative hearing or in court. In cases of employment discrimination, individuals would be limited to one year of back pay instead of the two years available under current law.

“The North Dakota Human Rights Act has been on the books in North Dakota since 1983,” Schneider said. “To use this bill to weaken the Act is wrong. It is devious. The Senate should reject these amendments.”

The amendment is expected to be debated on the Senate floor Thursday, February 14th.

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9 thoughts on “Senate Dem-NPL Leadership Urges Rejection of Amendments which would make SB 2252 a “Pro-Discrimination” Bill

  1. If this passes, I know who will NOT be getting my vote come next election…ANYONE that votes for this. This is not what North Dakota is all about. We are ones that love each other and embrace our differences. Be aware legislators or beware.

    • As a former ND Democratic legislator who served seven sessions, two in dismal minorities, I can only say “SS-DD.”

  2. As a person who stood in front of this committee to give my testimony in favor of the bill the way it was originally written, these amendments are a slap in the face. I am a North Dakotan, born and raised. I deserve to live and work in my home state without fear of discrimination based on my real or perceived sexual orientation with regard to my housing and my career.

  3. Not that I don’t trust politicians, but I would much prefer people link to the actual wording rather than their oft times biased interpretation. Your constituents really are intelligent enough to read and understand.

  4. As a citizen of what long ago started out as a free country, nowadays we seem to find ourselves amidst more and more government rules and regulations. That said, I truly believe the amendments to SB 2252 should be passed. Now before getting up in arms about the former statement, here are my reasons. I believe that if you are an employer or a homeowner you deserve the right to choose who works at your company or lives in your house. This is simply a freedom that one deservers when living in a so called free country. Therefore, although I know this bill isn’t about permitting or not permitting discrimination, one must look at the bigger picture. That is, any amendments that could potentially, at least, loosen the reigns upon these unnecessary regulatory policies should be passed. The proposed amendments to SB 2252 are just that: loosening the reigns on what we as citizens can and cannot do in regards to normal rights we deserve. Now that I have stated my reasoning, I would like to emphasize that I am not proposing citizens should be allowed to do anything simply because they live in a so called ‘free’ country. I am in no way saying that living in a free country should allow citizens to engage in illegal activities of all and any sorts, I am merely stating that the line between illegal and legal activity has been set in a position that works, decades ago. But year after year that line is moving and moving and it is making its way into unnecessary territory which is exactly where the SB 2252 amendments reside. Lastly, if an employer or house owner wants to discriminate, that is the right they deserve, but eventually there sins of discrimination will catch up to them and they will get what they always had coming. I hope that although employers should have the right to discriminate that they choose not to simply because it is wrong. Hopefully their businesses and houses run amuck. But to implement laws stating that any and every bad thing is against the law simply because it is immoral, is not the solution. If discrimination is against the law, shouldn’t things like wasting water and electricity, contributing to global warming, or even teasing other individuals be unlawful as well?

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  6. It’s interesting to note that Sen. O’Connell voted against every other member of his party on SB2252.
    I also find it interesting that Mr O’Connell has been a director of both Farmers Union and Farm Bureau.
    RS