The Senate today voted on SB2279, which is the same prohibition on discrimination towards homosexuals that Democrats have been offering for multiple sessions now. The bill would make it illegal to discriminate against gays in employment, housing, or in offering public services.
Meaning that if this legislation passes, it would be illegal in North Dakota for a photographer or a cake baker or any other person offering services to the public to deny those services to a homosexual.
Because who you have sex with entitles you to conscript the unwilling services of your fellow citizens, I guess.
You can watch the full debate above, but it wasn’t terribly exciting filled as it was with the typical rote talking points we always get around these issues (Senator Erin Oban’s speech was, in particular, an exercise in pomposity if you’re into that sort of thing).
What I thought was interesting was comments from Judiciary Committee chairman David Hogue, who carried the bill to the floor.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]”We didn’t have any witnesses come forward to say they were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation,” he said.[/mks_pullquote]
“They felt [the bill is] a logical extension of the civil rights movement,” Hogue said referring to supporters of the legislation who testified before his committee. “I don’t think the majority of the committee believed that.”
“That just didn’t seem like an accurate description of today,” he added.
Why might committee members have felt that way? Maybe because they didn’t get a single person before their committee who testified to discrimination they experienced.
“We didn’t have any witnesses come forward to say they were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation,” he said.
That’s been a real problem gay rights activists in North Dakota have had, and one I’ve pointed out previously. If discrimination against homosexuals is so rampant, so pervasive to the point where it’s deterring private sector investment in the state (which is a claim the bill’s supporters have made), then were are the examples?
Where are the gays being denied hotel accommodations or rental units or a reservation at a restaurant?
Supporters of the bill say that the victims of discrimination are afraid to come forward about it, but that’s a little hard to believe.
I’m a firm believer in identifying a problem, and properly measuring it, before we get on to proposing public policy to solve it. So where then is the evidence that discrimination against homosexuals is an issue in North Dakota? And absent that evidence, why should we pass this bill?
Not that the state should be in the business of compelling private individuals and businesses to serve or employ people they don’t like, as odious as we might find their reasoning in doing so.
Some would like us to perceive votes on this legislation as votes either for or against acceptance of gays. But it’s just not as simple as that.