Oversen said opponents claimed that the discrimination bill would have opened a door to gay marriage in North Dakota. Some raised concern about pedophilia and religion, he said. Oversen said the bill included exemptions for religious organizations, but opponents objected that it would have forced Catholic business owners to serve the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender population.
“The arguments against are outdated, they are homophobic and inappropriate,” Oversen said.
The North Dakota vote comes as nearby states also have tackled LGBT issues. In Montana, lawmakers have been debating legislation to remove the state’s law against gay sex. The ban has been deemed unconstitutional by the state and U.S. supreme courts. Earlier this month, the Wyoming House of Representatives rejected legislation to allow domestic partnerships. The Wyoming vote followed a committee hearing that included debate over whether sexuality was a choice.
Boschee told HuffPost he is talking to local leaders about potential local discrimination bans and plans to discuss a ban for state employees with Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R). He called Thursday’s vote “going backwards.”
Oversen and Boschee said they plan to reintroduce the legislation in 2015. Oversen said the Senate vote defines North Dakota.
“It speaks volumes about how far behind we are socially right now,” Oversen said. “Not only on this issue, but abortion and voter ID. Every single controversial social issue is coming up this year and they are passing with flying colors. We are saying that citizens of our state can be discriminated against for who they are and who they love.”