Wednesday, we were sent an email from a concerned resident over the Republican platform passed by mail ballot in May without discussion or debate, as passed out by a small committee made up of a few delegates. The email entailed concern that we as a body were anti LGBTQ and alleged in an indirect manner that we were engaging in discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation. Putting aside the false and slanderous allegations, let’s look at the facts.

Last session a bill was introduced that would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in North Dakota. The bill, SB 2303, would have made this constituent’s concern a moot point, and has been steadily gaining steam in the Legislature and the Republican Party (although clearly not as quickly as we would like). A yes vote would have prohibited discrimination, while a no vote would have left it to be possible in theory. As a result, each of the Grand Forks Republican senators met to make sure we understood the bill, and we maintained a united front for the bill. When it came time to vote, each of us voted to prohibit discrimination. Although the bill was ultimately unsuccessful, we were united in support of the bill representing Grand Forks voters.

It is unfortunately true that Republicans and Democrats are oftentimes judged by the boisterous minority. This is never more true than at conventions, when dedicated diehards from across the state attempt to define what it means to be a Republican or Democrat in North Dakota. These changes in platforms are often contentious, as there are many factions in a given party, all of whom agree with a portion but not the entirety of the platform. Truth is, few elected Republicans pay attention to the platform, and pay far more attention to voters in their district. We are an independent bunch, and do not vote in mobs or lockstep.

We are still proud to be Republican, even as we disagree with the state party platform’s unfortunate stance on sexual identity. The residents of Grand Forks should look at our voting record and understand we are pro-LGBTQ. We are changing the party from within but sometimes those efforts take more time than we like.

We are individuals and should be judged as such. Most Grand Forks Republicans stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community, including your three Republicans senators.

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Holmberg, Kreun and Meyer are Republican senators who represent Grand Forks in the North Dakota Legislature.