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TJ Jerke, Forum News Service, Published February 15 2013

Protest ensues after North Dakota discrimination vote

BISMARCK – A group of about 45 people stood outside a Bismarck lawmaker’s house Thursday night in protest of a Senate vote that killed a bill to outlaw discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.

Protest organizer Kevin Tengesdal, of Bismarck, a constituent of Republican Sen. Margaret Sitte, who voted against the bill, called the protest a vigil, to “be awake to the plight of discrimination and to hold a silent memorial at the death of the Senate bill.”

Senate Bill 2252 failed Thursday by a 21-26 vote. It would have added “sexual orientation” to state anti-discrimination law to allow LGBT individuals to seek recourse against a landlord or employer who evicts or fires someone based on their sexual orientation.

Tengesdal joined more than 20 other people testifying in favor of the bill during its three-hour original hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“It is easy for lawmakers who don’t experience any marginalization to fail legislation that will create equality,” he said in a Facebook message. “But for them to visibly see the numbers who stand in support of fairness and dignity, hopefully they will come to a better understanding.”

“We wanted to give Sen. Sitte a visible statement of those who are in support of anti-discrimination for which she voted against,” he said.

Tengesdal said Sitte was chosen because she represents him and many other constituents upset about the vote, and, “allegedly, she had lead the charge both in committee and behind the scenes to kill this bill,” he said.


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