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ND City Bans Employment Discrimination - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

ND City Bans Employment Discrimination

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A first in the state of North Dakota, as Grand Forks bans employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Less than a week ago President Barack Obama asked congress to pass legislation to ban workplace discrimination against gays, lesbians and others.

Monday night, leaders in Grand Forks took the necessary step toward that goal.

It may seem like another council meeting but in Monday nights agenda, an important issue about banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity...and that brought many residents in like Shana Wiley.

"I really wanted to show support for the overall city wide discrimination ordinance because I think it's really important." Shana says.

But not everyone who came was in support of the ban.

"I really don't know why you'd think of passing an evil ordinance like this." Ray Dohman from rural Grand Forks.

"I believe I will see in America where a pastor preaching against homosexuals will be considered a hate crime, he'll probably end up in jail, I firmly believe the government will go after churches tax exemptions, that's where I think this is all going to go." says Terry Bjerke from Ward 1.

"Well you know everyone is entitled to their own opinion, you know, so I respect that." Shana says after listening to non-supporters comments.

And that's why Shana came to the meeting, to share her opinion with the council.

"Successful urban development begins with the ability to attract the skilled, creative, diverse workforce." Shana says during part of her comments to the council chambers.  

"That's simply what we're up to here, this is simply a matter of assuring liberty and justice for all." says City Councilman Bret Weber who was in favor of passing the ban.

The room silenced while waiting to hear the councils votes, and there was only one no vote from Terry Bjerke. The ban is now in place for city workers. Shana says the city is now headed in the right direction.

"I think this is a good fist step, and now I look to the city of Grand Forks, to our city council to take that next step." She says.

Keep in mind, the ban passed was for city employees of Grand Forks, and supporters say the next step is to make it a city wide ordnance. Bret Weber says the outcome could start a statewide trend.  

Weber says Fargo, Grafton and Mandan were all waiting to see what happened and are likely to bring up a similar proposal at a later date.

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