President Obama is slated to sign an executive order banning discrimination of federal contractors based on sexual orientation and gender identification
Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - After months of pressure from LGBT advocates, President Obama is slated to sign an executive order banning discrimination of federal contractors based on sexual orientation and gender identification.
North Dakota is among 29 states without an explicit law prohibiting that kind of employment discrimination.
According to Mara Morken Fogarty, discrimination against the LGBT community is alive and well in North Dakota.
Mara Morken Fogarty/ Secretary, FM Pride Collective: “There is ample anecdotal evidence of people being discriminated against, so things like being fired, being evicted and harassment on the streets of Fargo.”
The state's Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination against things like race, religion, age, sex or disability, but the law doesn't mention anything about sexual orientation or gender identification.
And advocates say that creates a culture of fear for LGBT residents.
Barry Nelson/ ND Human Rights Coalition: “People aren't willing to declare who they are because they know there's ramifications for that and there's no safe guards for that.”
While North Dakota does not have a state-wide law banning LGBT discrimination, the City of Fargo has a resolution promoting acceptance and inclusion. And LGBT advocates say that's a step in the right direction.
Nelson: “It's a very important step, because it really, the City Commission does not wish to see this happen within the city jurisdiction.”
And while community members say Fargo's policy leaves room for improvement.
Fogarty: “It's a great first step. But it doesn't have teeth and doesn't offer practical protections for anyone.”
They hope the existing policy and the president's executive orders will put pressure on state legislators.
Nelson: “The squeeze is on the state to finally recognize it needs to get on the right side of history.”
Minnesota has had an anti LGBT discrimination law since 1993.
Grand Forks has also passed a city ordinance prohibiting housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.