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Published June 11, 2013, 08:54 AM

Grand Forks aims to enhance discrimination safeguards

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — City leaders are considering whether to make Grand Forks the first North Dakota community to ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — City leaders are considering whether to make Grand Forks the first North Dakota community to ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

If the measure passes it could be the start of a statewide trend, City Council member Bret Weber told the Grand Forks Herald. Fargo, Grafton and Mandan are waiting to see the outcome of the proposed amendment to Grand Forks law defining classes protected from discrimination, he said.

The measure shares the intent of an antidiscrimination bill that failed in the state Senate earlier this year. Supporters hope to resurrect the effort.

"We're going to be the first of many cities that will pass laws like this," Weber said. "Once enough of them have these laws, the Legislature has to pass a state law."

The Grand Forks City Council could give final approval to the measure as early as Monday.

Opponents worry that it would infringe on the religious and property rights of others, saying people with religious convictions against homosexuality should be able to refuse to do business with or rent housing to homosexuals. Supporters say that stance is outdated, and formal protections against it shouldn't even be needed.

"It speaks to the interesting state of our society when we actually have to write this stuff down," council member Dana Sande said.

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