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Port: Anti-LGBT resolution, disavowed by NDGOP leaders, again submitted for approval in party's 2022 platform

The previous resolution stated that LGBT "compulsions are primarily developmental and not genetic as in color and gender," that SOGI bills "empower those practicing LGBT behaviors to assume positions of mentorships of minors often over objections of parents, influencing their emotions and thereby recruiting for their lifestyles," and that many "LGBT practices are unhealthy and dangerous, sometimes endangering or shortening life and sometimes infecting society at large."

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Student activists marched around the North Dakota capitol grounds during three hours of protest againsts House Bill 1298 on Friday. Adam Willis / The Forum.
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MINOT, N.D. — In 2020 an anti-LGBT resolution endorsed by the North Dakota Republican Party made headlines and prompted the party's most prominent leaders to scramble to disavow it .

Now, as the party organizes itself for the 2022 election cycle, the resolution is back, albeit in modified form.

The previous resolution stated that sexual orientation and gender identity anti-discrimination bills (referred to as "SOGI bills") would "grant protection to voyeurs who wish to prey on members of the opposite sex."

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It stated that LGBT "compulsions are primarily developmental and not genetic as in color and gender," that SOGI bills "empower those practicing LGBT behaviors to assume positions of mentorships of minors often over objections of parents, influencing their emotions and thereby recruiting for their lifestyles," and that many "LGBT practices are unhealthy and dangerous, sometimes endangering or shortening life and sometimes infecting society at large."

Former congressman Rick Berg, then the chairman of the NDGOP, condemned the language as did Gov. Doug Burgum, Congressman Kelly Armstrong, and Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer.

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They were joined by many state lawmakers and other statewide elected officials, though the condemnations, righteous as they were, should be weighed against the fact that this language had existed in the party's platform, in various forms, since 2016 without anybody raising a fuss.

Though that's probably more a testament to how little attention is given to the party's resolutions than the position of these leaders on LGBTQ issues.

Anyway, these disavowals were not without controversy. Some members of the party's executive committee tried to remove Berg as chairman over his disavowal of the resolution, and a group of the party's district chairs, including Jared Hendrix, an organizer for the Bastiat Caucus faction of the party, wrote a letter to the party's resolutions committee arguing that the controversial language was not bigoted and that it should not be removed from the party's resolutions.

They were unsuccessful.

Which brings us back to the 2022 cycle.

At least two new versions of this resolution, one coming from District 11 chair Susy Oliver and the other from District 45, have been submitted for consideration by the resolutions committee according to a document I obtained from a source in the NDGOP.

There was no specific person named as the author of the District 45 version. Carrie McLeod, the chair of the district, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

The language in these new drafts has been substantially changed — a note appended to the District 45 version states that the author "removed the language which was deemed controversial" — though both versions argue that SOGI bills "grant protection to voyeurs who wish to prey on members of the opposite sex."

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These two iterations of the anti-SOGI resolution are part of 47 total resolutions submitted for consideration, though more than half of those came from just two people: Hendrix and Oliver.

The other resolutions run the gamut from stolen election conspiracies (Hendrix) to auditing the federal reserve (Hendrix again) to asserting support for the ban on same-sex marriage in North Dakota's constitution (Oliver) which has been rendered moot by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that such bans are illegal under the national constitution.

How many of these stand a chance of approval?

There is a lot more scrutiny on the party's resolutions, and not just because of the aforementioned controversy over SOGI resolutions. The Bastiat faction of the NDGOP has built their campaign to take over control of the party on the idea that they, and not the more traditional Republicans they oppose, are loyal to the party's platform. Rick Becker, specifically, who is challenging incumbent Sen. Hoeven for the party's nomination, has made an issue of this in his messaging so far.

If Republican candidates in North Dakota are going to be taken to task for fidelity to the party platform, you can bet they're going to pay a lot more attention to what's in that platform, which means there is going to be little appetite for controversial statements there.

There have also been some procedural modifications. "The process has been changed to include fewer people than in previous years," my source at the NDGOP told me. "Given the members of the committee, it’s far less likely the worst ones in the pile will advance — though the fact that some of these awful, pointless, divisive resolutions continue to be introduced is troubling in its own right."

Though we must acknowledge that these issues, while not something many elected officials want to answer questions about, are still very popular in the NDGOP's base. Last week state Senator Jessica Bell, a Republican from Beulah who was instrumental in keeping North Dakota's largest coal-fired power plant open, was denied her local party's endorsement in part because she voted to sustain Burgum's veto of a ban on transgender participation in high school sports.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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