If Businesses Or Landlords Are Discriminating Against Gays, Why Not Name Names?

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The North Dakota Senate voted down a bill which would have added gays to a list of protected classes (races, genders, religious affiliations, etc.) under state law. Now activists in Grand Forks are going to ask the city council there to pass a local version of the law.

I find these sort of efforts a little tiresome. State law already allows employers and landlords to fire/evict people (absent a contract, or discrimination against an already existing protected class) for any reason they wish. And, if we’re to be the sort of society which supports the right of people to choose who they want to associate with, that’s as it should be (except for the protected classes part).

But what caught my eye wasn’t so much the effort itself, but what Rep. Corey Mock, Assistant Leader for the Democrat minority in the state House, said in support of it:

The recent defeat of a bill to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation statewide has some Grand Forks residents headed to Tuesday’s City Council meeting looking for a similar local law.

“We wanted to start the movement in Grand Forks as soon as it ended in Bismarck,” said UND law student Tim Heise, 33.

He and other members of One ND, a group fighting against discrimination, will ask the council to pass a law like Senate Bill 2252, which was aimed at employers, landlords, hotels, banks, and local and state government agencies.

Heise, a Republican and father of four, said he is inspired by his gay aunt, who faced discrimination during her time in the military.

Council members voted 6-1 two weeks ago to pass a resolution in support of SB 2252.

“It’s the least we can do as a city,” said Rep. Corey Mock, a Democrat from District 42. “People are getting fired and evicted because of who they love.”

I’ll take Rep. Mock at his word, but his comments make me curious. If he knows of companies firing people because they’re gay, if he knows of landlords evicting people because of their sexuality, why doesn’t he speak up about it?

I think there are some social issues that are best left to society to solve. I think we’ve moved (thank goodness) to a society that is more accepting of gay marriage, to the point where gay marriage is being recognized under the law in more and more states, because of society’s changing attitudes. I think issues with employment/housing discrimination should be solved the same way.

In fact, I’m skeptical as to just how much of the sort of discrimination Rep. Mock is describing is actually happening. But if it is happening, let’s do something about it. Let’s name names, so that the perpetrators can be subjected to the boycotts and public shaming they deserve, but let’s not pass more laws.

Especially not when those laws do more to put money in the pockets of overly-litigious lawyers than to address social ills.

Update: Via email, Rep. Mock says he won’t name names:

Given the sensitivity of the issue, I cannot provide the names of those who were either evicted or fired in Grand Forks as a result of their sexual orientation. (In the most recent case that was bought to my attention, the individual has found new housing but is always at risk of losing employment or housing as a result of their sexual orientation with no opportunity for recourse.)

It gets rather hard to support this sort of policy when we don’t have any specific as to how much of a problem it really is, and those who say it is a problem can’t or won’t give us details.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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