To: Senate Judiciary Committee
From: Christopher T. Dodson, Executive Director
Subject: Senate Bill 2252
Date: February 6, 2013

(As presented in oral testimony.)

The Catholic Church affirms the God-given dignity of every human life and rejects unjust discrimination. Acts of violence, degradation, or diminishment toward any human person, including anyone with a homosexual inclination, are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

There is no place for arbitrary discrimination and prejudice against a person because of sexual attraction. We especially deplore violence and harassment directed against such persons. Moreover, all human persons, including those with homosexual inclinations, have a right to obtain employment and housing.

But this legislation is not about how we feel about discrimination based on sexual orientation. It is not about whether a nondiscrimination policy is good for business. It is not about whether we should be like other states. It is about this bill.

When we look carefully at this bill we see that the unique legal status granted by the bill’s definition of sexual orientation appears to encompass not only homosexual inclinations, but also other sexual activities, homosexual or heterosexual, outside of marriage. Civil rights categories should not be used to cover a particular group’s sexual activities. Current law already protects lawful activities outside the place of employment. This bill, however, would create special protection for a certain class of sexual activities - not persons.

This bill is also replete with infringements upon conscience, religious liberty, and the right to engage in commerce and social service without sacrificing sincerely-held beliefs. The bill has a religious “exemption” but that exemption actually provides less protection than Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act. More troubling, the bill’s exemptions do not exempt religious entities or anyone from the bill’s sexual orientation provisions.

We realize this is an emotionally-charged issue. Respect and cooperation, however, among people with legitimate differences of opinion is what makes North Dakota great. There is no place for hate, name-calling, or stereotyping by people on either side of this issue or this particular bill. Keeping those principles in mind we urge this committee to carefully review what this bill actually does and give it a Do Not Pass recommendation.