The North Dakota Senate passes a bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, public accommodations, housing, state and local government services, insurance and credit transactions. This legal acceptance of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community comes in the wake of the state government's attacks on a woman's right to choose.
On February 19, 2009, the Senate voted 27-19 to pass Bill 2278, which adds sexual orientation, defined as "actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality, or gender identity or expression," to the list of classes protected under existing North Dakota anti-discrimination laws. Current classes include race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital status, and status of public assistance. The bill will now move to the House of Representatives for review.
Most states do not include sexual orientation or gender identity in the classes protected from discrimination. According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, by July 2008 there were seven states that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
But while discrimination is illegal, North Dakota still does not have a law classifying crimes committed based on sexual orientation or gender identity as hate crimes. As of July 2008, Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia lacked hate crime laws to include sexual orientation or sexual identity. Five other states lack hate crimes based on any characteristics. But the majority of states - 31 states and the District of Columbia - do have hate crime laws to include sexual orientation although only eleven and the District of Columbia include gender identity. So while North Dakota is moving ahead of the nation in anti-discrimination laws, it still falls behind in protecting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community from violence and crime.