HRC Blog

North Dakota City is First in the State to Pass Non-Discrimination Ordinance for Municipal Workers

Post submitted by David McCabe, HRC Digital Media Intern

The City Council in Grand Forks, N.D. approved a proposal on Monday that protects city employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, making them the first city in North Dakota to pass such a law.

Howard Swanson, the Council’s attorney, has said he is in the process of drafting a provision that would expand protections to those seeking housing within city limits. That law could very well be needed by Grand Forks’ LGBT residents: a brand new study from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that same-sex couples are less likely than their heterosexual counterparts to receive responses to inquiries about housing listings on the Internet.

The measure was not without its opponents. One of them, Ray Dohman, traveled the 45 minutes from McCanna, N.D. to protest the amendment, which he called “evil.”

In spite of the opposition, only a single councilmember was against the amendment. The president of the Council, according to the Grand Forks Herald, said it counted among his “proudest moments” of his 13-year tenure as a councilmember.

North Dakota does not currently protect LGBT individuals against housing or employment discrimination at a statewide level. Its constitution has had an amendment banning same-sex marriage since 2004.

Grand Forks reflects a movement that is happening at the local level across the country.  Where states and the federal government have failed to act, municipalities have stepped up.  More than 170 cities and counties across the country have passed non-discrimination laws that protect their LGBT constituents.  HRC’s Municipal Equality Index demonstrates the ways that many cities can – and do – serve the LGBT people who live and work in those cities. HRC’s Municipal Equality Index demonstrates the ways that many cities can – and do – serve the LGBT people who live and work in those cities. 

Read the Municipal Equality Index report here, and click here to see the detailed scorecards for the 137 cities the MEI rated in 2012.  The 2013 Municipal Equality Index is rating 291 cities and will be released this fall.

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