BISMARCK, North Dakota — The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, April 12, 2015
N.D. needs to guarantee rights for all
The defeat of Senate Bill 2279 hasn't and won't end the debate over protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation. It's a national issue and future debates in North Dakota will draw attention across the country. There's been a mood shift and major corporations and other groups are joining the national effort for change.
Indiana and Arkansas felt the pressure and their governors got legislators to make changes in religious objections laws. After the vote on SB2279, Gov. Jack Dalrymple was criticized by some legislators for saying the Legislature missed an opportunity. They said he should have made his feelings known earlier.
"I'm concerned that we have missed an opportunity to affirm what North Dakotans already believe, which is that discrimination based on an individual's sexual orientation is not acceptable. We should have at least established protections in the areas of housing and employment," the governor said in his statement.
The reality is that each legislator must take ownership for his or her own individual vote. Concern over whether the governor should or should not have weighed in earlier misses the point entirely. Legislators had the opportunity to vote based on their own behalf. Seeking political refuge, based on what another official did or didn't do, has no merit.
On Monday, Democrats asked the governor to issue an executive order to provide state employees protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Dalrymple's response was that it was already policy. His office said the governor had reaffirmed an order this past February, issued by Gov. Allen Olson in 1981, that required all agencies headed by a gubernatorial appointee to provide fair and equal treatment to all employees.
When asked whether the order included sexual orientation, Olson said: "I know what I personally felt, and that was we're all God's children, and I had no personal animosity toward gay people and that was probably reflected in my actions as governor."
So 34 years ago a governor guaranteed rights to a certain group of state employees in an act that went largely unnoticed. And the Tribune believes that if the Legislature had passed SB2279, the ripples would have been slight. But knowing your rights are guaranteed can provide security and make the state more attractive for those who are considering relocating.
The work needs to begin now to tailor legislation that guarantees rights for all and is compatible to North Dakotans. It shouldn't be a political issue — all parties should be interested in equal rights. North Dakota will accomplish nothing by being one of the last states to take action.
Olson was right 34 years ago and Dalrymple is right today.
Minot Daily News, Minot, April 13, 2015
Have we had enough of evil yet?
Some notable good deeds and bad deeds have been in the news recently.
Last week, members of a 91st Missile Wing squadron from Minot Air Force Base pitched in to clean some of the parking lots near Trinity Hospital and at other Trinity properties.
They spent almost two hours sweeping the gutters that day and plan to help with more citywide cleaning efforts as the spring weather progresses.
How nice. Such good neighbors are hard to come by. But doesn't it seem like people from Minot AFB always stand out when it comes to community service? And we are grateful for them.
Besides the horrid news of human trafficking taking place in our midst, the recent burglary of several Minot churches stood out as particularly bad deeds, given at least one of the break-ins took place during Holy Week.
How does one hold another human being hostage and force them into the sex trade, or break into and steal from a church? It is especially hard to accept that these types of things are happening in Minot, North Dakota, not some impoverished Third World country.
Perhaps if we didn't feel compelled to play policeman around the world we could focus our attention better on the atrocities taking place here in the heartland. Or is that just an excuse?
Yes. It's more likely that we simply haven't had enough of evil yet, or so much that we don't recognize it any longer. What will it take? What will it take?