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Progressives call push to change Constitution "risky," Judge rules Donald Trump defrauded banks, insurers while building real estate empire; new report compares ways NY can get cleaner air, help disadvantaged communities.

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House Speaker McCarthy aims to pin a shutdown on White House border policies, President Biden joins a Detroit auto workers picket line and the Supreme Court again tells Alabama to redraw Congressional districts for Black voters.

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An Indigenous project in South Dakota seeks to protect tribal data sovereignty, advocates in North Carolina are pushing back against attacks on public schools, and Arkansas wants the hungriest to have access to more fruits and veggies.

Tracing the Origins of ND's Anti-Transgender Laws

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Wednesday, May 31, 2023   

Human rights voices are calling attention to new North Dakota laws deemed hostile toward LGBTQ+ individuals, saying it is part of a movement led by national groups, and does not align with how the state governs itself.

The recent legislative session saw North Dakota and its GOP-led Legislature take a big leap into so-called "culture wars" by passing laws such as one banning gender-affirming care for transgender youths.

Geoff Wetrosky, national campaign director for the Human Rights Campaign, said in the U.S., there have been nearly 1,700 such bills in the past decade. He pointed out organizations such as the Family Policy Alliance are working hard to get them passed in conservative statehouses.

"These organizations have a worldview that just does not comport with a pluralistic society where LGBTQ people are allowed to live freely and not be discriminated against," Wetrosky explained.

In 2021, a trio of the groups joined forces to fund policy efforts, citing the need to protect children's bodies and minds.

Wetrosky noted they often have template legislation for lawmakers to use while pledging to help pay for legal costs if a state ends up facing a legal challenge. Local opponents of the movement say it runs counter to past arguments from those who decried the influence of outside groups in trying to craft North Dakota policy.

In 2020, a proposed ballot initiative aiming to bolster election access was criticized for the involvement of out-of-state groups, but Wetrosky asserted the LGTBQ+ policy efforts are largely driven by organizations with addresses outside of North Dakota.

He noted such groups are also active in backing candidates who are receptive to the movement.

"In the midterm elections last year, we tracked over $60 million in spending on attack ads that attack transgender folks," Wetrosky reported. "The bulk of those resources was spent in Republican primaries."

Megan Langley, founder and executive director of Strengthen ND, which focuses on helping rural areas thrive, said while her group is not involved in such policy debates, she agreed with some sentiments they can serve as a distraction. She feels North Dakota does better when the state looks inward to address more pressing issues.

"Some of the noise created during particular legislative times can take away from what's going on within communities," Langley contended. "It removes folks away from who their neighbors are."

The Family Policy Alliance could not be reached for comment.


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