Gay Activists Protest Failure Of Anti-Discrimination Bill At Legislator’s Home

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This seems entirely inappropriate:

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.

Free speech is one thing. Intimidation is quite another. And even a quiet, “peaceful” demonstration at a person’s home is intimidation.

There are plenty of places where a protest like this could have had an impact, the state capitol where the law in question was defeated by a majority in one chamber of the legislature would be a good starting place.

But not a legislator’s home. Not any public official’s home. That’s crossing the line. Especially in a state as open as North Dakota.

We enjoy a special level of access to our political leaders. On the state legislative website most legislators list a home address and even a phone number. I’m not sure there’s any place else in the country where you could stop by your legislator’s home, or call their cell phone, to discuss an issue.

But if that level of access is abused, as I think it was here, we’re going to lose it.

I’m also not sure how much this sort of thing helps the cause of gay rights, something I’m very sympathetic too. These sort of tactics are only going to make opponents dig in.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from 1-2pm weekdays.

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