BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota cities have received failing grades from a national gay rights advocacy group in its assessment of American cities’ treatment of sexuality and gender identity rights.
The Human Rights Campaign rated Bismarck lowest among the North Dakota cities, with 14 points out of a possible 100 for the level of protection it offers lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the Bismarck Tribune reported. Fargo received 41 points, while Grand Forks had 30 and Minot had 17.
In the 2014 Municipal Equality Index Scorecard, the organization rated 353 cities across the country based on six metrics, including non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, municipalities as employers, municipal services, law enforcement and relationship with the LGBT community. The national average score was 59. The Human Rights Campaign gave perfect scores to 38 U.S. cities, including Minneapolis and Missoula, Montana.
Points were awarded under the category of non-discrimination laws if the state, county or city had statutory protections against the discrimination of LGBT individuals regarding housing, employment or public accommodation.
According to the North Dakota Century Code, discrimination is prevented in those cases on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, the presence of any mental or physical disability, status with regard to marriage or public assistance, or participation in lawful activity off the employer’s premises during nonworking hours which is not in direct conflict with the essential business-related interests of the employer.”
But the code doesn’t specifically protect against discrimination based on sexuality or gender status, the newspaper reported.
The group gave the city of Bismarck zero points as an employer because it doesn’t offer LGBT-specific benefits, such as transgender-inclusive and domestic partner health benefits for city employees. The city also received zero points in the relationship with the LGBT community category.
Bismarck Mayor Mike Seminary took exception with the report, saying the city is a “very open employer” that doesn’t discriminate in any way.
This was the third such report issued by the Human Rights Campaign.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com