Interview: North Dakota’s First Openly Gay Legislator Says Sexuality Wasn’t An Issue In His Campaign

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Representative-elect Joshua Boschee won election to represent North Dakota’s District 44 in the upcoming legislative session, splitting the ticket with incumbent Republican Blair Thoreson. Boschee is the first openly gay legislator to serve in the state’s assembly. I interviewed him earlier this week about his experiences as a gay candidate in North Dakota, and his policy priorities for the upcoming session.

Boschee told me that he didn’t exactly campaign as a gay candidate. He said that at most events the campaign focused on fiscal issues. “For the most party my sexual orientation wasn’t brought up,” he told me noting that he felt it was most appropriate to talk about it only at events focusing specifically on issues of sexual orientation.

I asked him about the issues of identity politics, and if he was worried that people might have voted for him not because of his policy positions but because of his sexuality. “I wouldn’t say it bothered me,” Boschee told me. “I would hope people are voting on the facts.”

Asked if he faced any anger from voters over his sexual orientation, Boschee told me “Not really.”

“It was only positive,” he said of experiences out knocking on doors. He did refer to what he described as a Virginia-based “hate group” which encouraged its membership to oppose him as a proponent of a “gay agenda,” but noted that most of the emails came from out of state.

Boschee says he does plan on backing one area of policy reform related to homosexual issues. He said he’d like to see gays included as a protected class under state law prohibiting housing, employment and other sorts of discrimination.

He also spoke of the state’s need for tax reform, spending on higher education and more appropriations for early childhood education.

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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  • Tim Heise

    ” He said he’d like to see gays included as a protected class under state law prohibiting housing, employment and other sorts of discrimination.”
    so does this republican!

    • Rick Olson

      I guess I wouldn’t have a problem with that sort of legislation, either. Good luck in getting our ultra-conservative legislators to go along with it. Such legislation would immediately become an urban vs. rural debate.

      This is also just the type of legislation which would also be ripe to go up on a referendum if such a bill were to make it all the way through the legislative process and be signed into law by the governor.

    • Thresherman

      The problem I have with such legislation is that in the attempt to make them “equal” the result is that they are then made “special” in the eyes of the law. In fact, the term “protected” itself is troublesome as it implies something other than equal treatment. My fear is that once “protected” status is given, behavior that would result in anyone else being evicted or fired could be challanged as discriminatory by members of the “protected” class. Thus landlords and employers would be forced to keep bad tenents or employees due to the threat and expense of litigation. It is not as if this hasn’t happened elsewhere.

      • sbark

        Society has now granted tolerance and that is a sign of a loss of convictions. This type of legislation is a move toward affirmation with all the problems you lay out. After affirmation is “granted” via political approval, what is next………and there will always be a “what is next”, no diff. than the property rights attacks such as anti-smoking laws moving now toward a persons private house….with LIberalims there is always a next move.

    • charles

      Yet by his own admission the voters did not have a problem with his sexual orientation. Where’s the evidence of discrimination?

      The other problem is that “orientation” is an internal thought process and not an immutable characteristic that can serve as the basis for discrimination. As such, such legislation really only gives legal protection to sexual acts.

      • Tim Heise

        1. How much evidence would change your mind?
        2. Religion is an internal thought process and it is protected.

        • Neiman

          To date there exists no objective, reliable proof that homosexuality is innate; but, even should some genetic connection later be found, would it be cause of effect? At the end of the day, homosexuality is a willful act, no one is forced to engage therein. Charles is quite correct.

          Religion is less and less protected, Obamacare abortion rights being forced on Catholic Hospitals or Christian speech being denied in the public square (see Reader Blogs) are two such examples. It is specifically protected by the First Amendment, which reflected the Declaration of Independence’s recognition of Nature’s God. It is beyond internal thoughts, it is a part of the fabric of this nation since its founding.

          • Tim Heise

            I am not arguing that one is born gay or chooses to be so. I do not care about that. My point is that even if it is not inate does a renter of an apartment or an employee have the right to do what ever they want to do (legal) in their own home and not be discriminated for it.
            Listen I am a conservative Mormon, I am very much in favor of marriage being between one man and one woman. To me this is a different subject.

          • Neiman

            I see, misunderstood.

            These are competing rights IMO, the rights of one denied by the exercise of the rights of another, when it involves renting. So it is is my right as a Christian to not rent to people that conduct themselves contrary to my faith (religious exercise) versus the gay person’s right to rent and in the privacy of their rental unit be able to conduct themselves lawfully as they see fit. Which one has the greater right? It seems the renter has no right to force the person renting to conform to their values in the privacy of their home. On the other hand, do they have a right to say they only want Christians renting from them, as they do saying theirs is a seniors only rental, or designed for handicapped persons.

            As to a gay employee, does the employer have a right to discriminate based on private lawful behavior outside of work? Does the employer have a right to only hire Christian employees?

            This is a difficult question you have posed, as you may not exercise your rights at the expense of mine, there must be a reasonable accommodation that to the highest degree possible protects the rights of each person. Under law the person renting or the employer may not discriminate based on sexual orientation, which is behavior, being quite different than race or gender. So, my personal belief is that within reasonable limits, both the person renting and the employer may discriminate based on known “conduct” that violates their religious faith, as they could refuse to rent to or hire a convicted child molester or rapist or murderer.

            If you’ll permit, I’ll think about this some more and may edit this later.

          • Tim Heise

            Thank you for your thoughtful response. I agree it is not an easy answer. A couple of thoughts:

            1. It is prefectly legal in ND right now for one to discriminate based on sexual orientation in housing and employment.

            2. Religous v. Sexual beliefs/behaviors. What about a church? Could they legally fire someone who is gay for that reason? I’d say yes but then that weakens my own arguement.

          • Neiman

            If it is a Church, under the First Amendment, IMO, they have a Constitutional right to discriminate based on very wide criteria. There is no doubt in my mind they may hire/fire based on sexual preferences, even skin color, although I cannot imagine it happen in the modern era. I think this is absolutely clear, as Congress may make no law restricting their way of following God.

            A question arises about, a hospital for instance, that is owned by a Christian/religious organization and is non-profit. Can they hire or fire based solely on personal sexual conduct and/or private beliefs? I would say it is a slam dunk yes, except they all accept tax dollars to pay for patient care, maybe even research, etc and that entanglement with government muddies the waters. Should they or could they discriminate in every area where tax dollars are not involved? I think that would be very hard to establish were those tax dollars begin and end. So, not a slam dunk anymore, right? Thus, why I do not like the Church involved with tax money.

            If that Christian owned hospital is serving a need, if their patients, employees and prospects know they are Christian based and have certain values that must be supported and they choose to use their services and work there, should not they have a reasonable expectation that the hospital will and should discriminate based on core beliefs and are they not accepting those limitations when they choose to be involved with that hospital? What if religious group establishes an insurance company or plan on their own for their own employees, don’t they have a right to choose and refuse services that violate their values? I think a very wide latitude must be given to such groups and the government should have to prove that there is an overwhelming cause for any restrictions, based on the First Amendment and they must not violate core beliefs, requiring some accommodations.

            Or, since it is unconstitutional to force any religious group to submit to State values that oppose their own, should we say that no Church may hire employees or conduct business unless they submit to the State? I don’t think that could ever pass constitutional muster. So, we are back to a strict interpretation of the First Amendment, with reasonable accommodations allowed in specific cases.

    • $8194357

      Where does ANY protected class fit with Article 28?

  • yy4u2

    Free to choose but with my stipulations that I will have govt force on you. Perfect politician.

  • sbark

    quote……He also spoke of the state’s need for tax reform, spending on higher education and more appropriations for early childhood education………
    sounds like a typical leftwing agenda to me……..just avoiding the Free stuff and class envy spiel in N.Dak ………for now.

    ….We just came thru the last election watching the steady split up of what used to be 1 class……….USA citizens……by Obama into Hispanic, Women, youth, gays, blacks, poor, rich, evil rich, exteme right wing………….and then a post such as this that starts that process all over again in N.Dak……….

    The USA is at a stage where one joins a “tribe”….or just dissappears as a Indiv.

    • $8194357

      Survivor man.

  • kevindf

    He’s another useful idiot for big education, this state’s sacred cow.

    • $8194357

      Lenins baby..
      Ayers indoctrinated.

  • splined
  • Mike Peterson

    Because I’m hearing-impaired I have a tough time with audio.. What did Boschee have to say about tax reform, spending on higher
    education and more appropriations for early childhood education?

  • $8194357

    Political correct western cultures destruction is so advanced in America…
    See what Pravda has to say about the “state of liberalism” in America.
    Hateful of me to tell you I know…
    Tell Putin I will have more “flexability” after the election…
    Barry
    Quote Pravda

    Prime Minister Putin, less then two months ago, warned Obama and UK’s Blair, not to follow the path to Marxism, it only leads to disaster. Apparently, even though we suffered 70 years of this Western sponsored horror show, we know nothing, as foolish, drunken Russians, and so let our “wise” Anglo-Saxon fools find out the folly of their own pride.

    Again, the American public has taken this with barely a whimper…but a “free man” whimper.

    So, should it be any surprise to discover that the Democratically controlled Congress of America is working on passing a new regulation that would give the American Treasury department the power to set “fair” maximum salaries, evaluate performance, and control how private companies give out pay raises and bonuses? Senator Barney Frank, a social pervert basking in his homosexuality (of course, amongst the modern, enlightened American societal norm, as well as that of the general West, homosexuality is not only not a looked down upon life choice, but is often praised as a virtue) and his Marxist enlightenment, has led this effort. He stresses that this only affects companies that receive government monies, but it is retroactive and taken to a logical extreme, this would include any company or industry that has ever received a tax break or incentive.

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