Even in a deeply red state like North Dakota (which has a statewide version of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as man-plus-woman, only and ONLY only), there are perhaps a few glimmers of hope for LGBT rights. A few small steps forward. I have several examples below the orange eggs and ham.
The City of Grand Forks Just Outlawed LGBT Housing Discrimination
Grand Forks was the second largest city in ND when I was a kid (and is now the third largest). Now the city council in Fargo, the largest ND city, is discussing a similar ordinance. Here’s a link: Rental discrimination ban approved in Grand Forks.
NDSU Might Expand Benefits For Same-Sex Partners
North Dakota State University (NDSU) hasn't done it yet, but here’s the story: NDSU faculty, staff push for tuition discount for same-sex partners of employees. Across the river in Moorhead, Minnesota, both MSUM (a state university) and Concordia College (a Lutheran college) offer full benefits to same-sex spouses. Plus Minnesota has full marriage equality. If you’re an academic who is gay, the temptation to move from ND across the river to a college in MN must be strong.
The ND Dept of Revenue Has a Same-Sex Spouse Tax Form
Here’s the link: N.D. ban on gay marriage means state needs new form for same-sex couples. Here’s the thing. Same-sex couples still can’t file a state income tax form as a married couple (because of the state DOMA rule), but they can file a federal tax form and then file individually in ND, and actually save money…
It’s basically a work form for divvying up a couple’s federal tax filing so they can file as individuals in North Dakota.So a gay couple can save a little money on state income taxes. I'm sure this will anger some anti-gay bigots.
Bowker said, like the federal government, there is a “marriage penalty” built into the North Dakota tax code, so filing as individuals could be beneficial to same-sex couples. For example, a couple earning $75,000 together would owe the state $1,341, but if they filed as two individuals earning half that amount, they would together owe $151 less.
In 2012, the First Openly Gay Representative Was Elected
Here’s the link: Josh Boschee North Dakota’s first gay legislator. Unfortunately, the state House and state Senate and the Governor are all solidly Republican, so Boschee can introduce bills, but they won’t go very far. But give him some time and he’ll get seniority and make allies and eventually maybe do some good.
And my point is…
Even though North Dakota has a DOMA law, it’s easy to see that, bit by bit, the city councils and some universities and even the State Dept of Revenue are realizing that they have to recognize the reality of marriage equality and equal rights for LGBT people. And sooner or later North Dakota will join the 21st century.
Let's hope it's sooner rather than later.