North Dakota Governor Blasts Party's Anti-LGBTQ Resolution

by James MacPherson

Associated Press

Thursday July 23, 2020

North Dakota's Republican governor on Thursday blasted an anti-LGBTQ resolution that was passed by hundreds of delegates at his party's recent state convention, calling it insulting and divisive.

The resolution — one of dozens of party policy statements passed by more than 900 delegates Friday and Saturday at the state GOP convention in Medina — states that many "LGBT practices are unhealthy and dangerous, sometimes endangering or shortening life and sometimes infecting society at large."

Gov. Doug Burgum issued a statement Thursday denouncing the resolution.

"As I've long said, all North Dakotans deserve to be treated equally and live free of discrimination," Burgum said. "There's no place for the hurtful and divisive rhetoric in the NDGOP resolutions."

The state GOP's executive director, Corby Kemmer, issued a statement Wednesday apologizing for the language in that resolution.

"The resolutions were presented for an up or down vote, and no one resolution was voted on individually," Kemmer said.

"The intent of the delegates was to stand up for individual and religious liberties, and, unfortunately, this language falls woefully short of that goal. We regret any offense this may have caused, and we will be reconsidering this resolution at a future meeting to bring it more in line with what delegates were attempting to communicate," he said.

It was not clear when the resolution might be reconsidered. Former U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, the state GOP's chairman, didn't immediately reply to Thursday phone messages seeking comment.

State Rep. Josh Boschee, a Fargo Democrat who is the North Dakota House minority leader and the only openly gay member of the Legislature, said the GOP resolution contains "blatant lies."

"This is nothing to help the image of North Dakota," Boschee said. "This is just a gut punch to see they would approve language like this."

North Dakota Republicans wield supermajority control in the Legislature and hold every statewide office. The Legislature has defeated measures several times in past years that would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, government, public services and the workplace.

Though North Dakota has fought against protections gay, lesbian and transgender people The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that a landmark 1964 civil rights law protects them from discrimination in employment, in a resounding victory for LGBT rights from a conservative court.

Burgum has long been critical of the GOP-led Legislature's stance on social issues, including being outspoken on its failure to pass the anti-discrimination bill. Burgum supported the legislation last year.

Republican former Gov. Jack Dalrymple chided lawmakers when they killed a similar bill in 2017, telling them in a statement that they had missed an opportunity to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination.

The Republicans held their convention in-person despite the coronavirus threat, and on Wednesday, the state Health Department sent a letter to convention-goers telling them that someone who attended the event had tested positive for COVID-19 and warning them to take precautions.

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