Discrimination Bill Discussed | VideoJessica Roose | 2/6/2013
Riah Roe says she was fired from her job as a debate coach at a Fargo High School and she claims it had nothing to do with her abilities as an educator.
"It was heartbreaking to know that as a man I could impact people`s lives but because I decided to fulfill who I felt I truly was. That I was no longer a valuable citizen."
Roe was one of many who testified in support of Senate Bill 2252.
"I`m a mother of a wonderful son and, because he couldn`t be with me here today, I wanted to put his face in front of each and every one of you," said Tammy Adams from Thompson.
Her son is a gay man and she says this bill would protect him by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of things that a person cannot be fired or evicted.
"It would offer them the opportunity to go to the labor department and bring suit in court and to enforce their rights under the law," said attorney Tom Feibiger.
Opponents say the bill infringes on the rights of others.
"Indeed many North Dakota citizens would be given a choice no one should ever have to face if this bill is enacted. You either violate your deeply held religious beliefs or you face legal action and likely termination from your employment," said Kellie Fiedorek with Alliance Defending Freedom.
She gave examples from other states of photographers or bakers who were brought to court after refusing to offer their services to gay or lesbian couples.
"This is not religious freedom. This is religious intolerance," she said.
"You don`t have to like me. I`m different than you. You don`t have to respect me. But the reality is I deserve equal protection under the law," Roe said.
The committee did not take action on the bill. They will meet later to decide if it should receive a do pass or do not pass recommendation before the bill goes to the Senate floor.