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United Way creates task force to explore conflict

The issue of sexual discrimination has divided members of the United Way of Cass-Clay, causing an impasse in future planning and necessitating a research-based task force, board members decided in a meeting Tuesday.

The issue of sexual discrimination has divided members of the United Way of Cass-Clay, causing an impasse in future planning and necessitating a research-based task force, board members decided in a meeting Tuesday.

"There's a conflict between the board and committee, what's been characterized as a 'disconnect,'" said Scott Crane, president of United Way.

That's why the board decided to create a task force to consist of eight people -- four from the board, four from the Community Building Committee -- and with the aim of discovering a way to move things forward, Crane said.

The controversy began in May, when United Way's board voted against a proposal that would have prevented United Way funds from going to groups that discriminate based on sexual orientation.

The rejected proposal could have removed local funding from the Northern Lights Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

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The Community Building Committee, which was created late last year, ceased functioning after its proposal was rejected by the board.

Now, the board wants a task force to research various issues, including the rejected proposal. However, task force participants should proceed without expecting the board to revisit the issue of sexual discrimination in May, Crane said.

In Tuesday's meeting, board members talked about the balance between inclusiveness, non-discrimination and making sure everyone receives service who needs it, Crane said.

While North Dakota law does not consider sexual orientation a protected designation, most company policies do, he said.

However, it's one thing to make internal policies, it's another to judge others, he said. In the past, United Way has shied away from judging the internal policies of receiving agencies, he said.

The meeting was a mix of practical brainstorming on how to move forward and emotion, he said.

Aside from the task force, United Way may use a "meeting facilitator" to help members articulate their viewpoints, Crane said.

"People definitely have opinions on this issue and on what United Way should be about," Crane said.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Lisa Schneider at (701) 241-5529

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