In front of a standing-room only crowd, the Grand Forks City Council passed a law Monday banning housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the city.
Grand Forks becomes the first city in the state to do so, according to council members.
The council approved the law by a vote of 5-2 with members Terry Bjerke and Ken Vein dissenting.
While Vein voted against the law after seeing a lack of incident data, Bjerke said he was against identifying any group of people as a protected class — including those already defined under state and federal law.
“How can you have equal protection and protected class in the same sentence?” he said. “There are not enough trees to cut down and paper to print the number of protected classes that could be in the ordinance.”
Once enacted, the law prohibits denying, withholding or refusing to conduct maintenance on rental property based on the sexual orientation or gender identity of the tenant.
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One thing to add is that this law as changed form since first proposed. This edition was written into the renting section of city code. The original law draft covered the sale and purchase of homes as well.
No word yet if another law covering home sales will be written.