Last legislative session SB2279, which would have banned discrimination in North Dakota based on sexual orientation or gender identity, prompted a barn burner debate on the House floor were it was ultimately defeated (it had previously passed in the Senate).
The bill was divided on the House floor (meaning they voted on different portions of it), with one division getting a 30-61 vote and the other getting a 35-56 vote.
The debate two years ago lasted for an hour and a half.
This session HB1386, essentially an identical copy of that previous legislation, died with far less debate. It ultimately failed by an even wider margin than SB2279, going down on a 22-69 vote. Debate lasted for 26 minutes, with a good chunk of that taken up by some procedural wrangling from the bill sponsor.
As I noted yesterday, there were some proposed amendments to this bill. Rep. Tom Beadle, a Fargo Republican and a co-sponsor of the original legislation, tried to pare it down so that “gender identity” was taken out and so that it only applied to government discrimination in employment and housing.
The committee refused to approve those amendments, and Rep. Josh Boschee (D-Fargo) who was the prime sponsor of the bill made that an issue on the House floor. He first moved to have the bill referred back to the Human Services Committee for reconsideration, but that was defeated by a 32-59 vote. He then asked the House for unanimous consent to amend the bill on the floor, something which was defeated by a voice vote.
One Republican texted me from the House floor that it was a “damn shame” that the amendments weren’t approved.
I agree. I understand that a lot of people are uncomfortable with forcing private business people to (as one example) serve at a same sex wedding. But the amendments would have made it so that only discrimination by the government would be banned.
Can we not at least agree that the government shouldn’t discriminate against gays?
Here’s a screenshot of the board in the House chamber from the final vote.
Republicans Beadle, Jake Blum, Randy Boehning, Mary Johnson, George Keiser, Andy Maragos, Bob Martinson, Emily O’Brien, and Shannon Roers-Jones voted for the bill with all of the chambers Democrats.
Boehning’s vote is notable. He voted against SB2279 last session and was subsequently outed as gay.