Is North Dakota’s First Openly Gay Lawmaker an Anti-Gay Bigot?

Rep. Joshua Boschee, D-Fargo

“Bigotry is alive and well in Bismarck,” writes Jim Shaw in his most recent column.

“The North Dakota Legislature is standing still while the country goes forward on LGBT rights and protections,” he continues.

It’s refreshing to see Shaw take a break from whining in print about former Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s loss in the last election cycle – he’s been taking it pretty hard, bless is partisan heart – but his argument in this particular piece has me wondering.

Are the Democrats who voted against Republican-backed anti-discrimination legislation – a list which includes House Minority Leader Josh Boschee, North Dakota’s first openly gay lawmaker, and left wing media darling Rep. Ruth Buffalo – bigots as well?

Or is Shaw letting his hatred for Republicans get the better of him?

HB1441 was bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep. Mary Johnson (R-Fargo) which would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. It failed in the House earlier this session with just 22 votes in favor and 70 votes against.

Is the entire leadership team for the House Democrats a bunch of bigots? How about the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, which came out forcefully against this legislation? Are they now a hate group? We’d have to plumb the depths of Shaw’s partisan mind for the answers to these questions, and I’m afraid we’d find the answer has less to do logic than his own ideological angst.

Both the “yeas” and the “nays” were bipartisan. In fact, in addition to Boschee and Buffalo, the “nays” also included Democratic Assistant Minority Leader Karla-Rose Hanson (D-Fargo) and Minority Caucus Leader Gretchen Dobervich (D-Fargo).

Are these women bigots too, I wonder? Is the entire leadership team for the House Democrats a bunch of bigots? How about the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, which came out forcefully against this legislation? Are they now a hate group?

We’d have to plumb the depths of Shaw’s partisan mind for the answers to these questions, and I’m afraid we’d find the answer has less to do logic than his own ideological angst.

I should note here that the reason why Boschee and others opposed legislation which would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation is because the legislation did not also include protections for trans people. Rep. Johnson said that was by design. Her intent was to try to find common ground on this issue. To make progress, even if it wasn’t perfect progress in the eyes of some.

Rep. Johnson isn’t a bigot for making that calculation.

Unfortunately many of our friends on the left decided to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, but they aren’t bigots for making that calculation either.

Another bill which included protections for trans people, one favored by Boschee and others, also failed this session.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of anti-gay animus in the Legislature, and it’s all in the Republican caucus. They don’t even hide it. They talk about it in the floor speeches. They’re even more candid about it in social settings. I wish it weren’t true, but it is.

My point is there are lots of reasons why a given lawmaker might vote against a given piece of legislation. It may suit the simplistic, juvenile agenda of a shallow thinker like Shaw to suggest that anyone who votes against legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation is a bigot, but when your argument lumps the state’s first openly gay lawmaker into that category as well it might be time to admit your argument is, well, kind of stupid.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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