Letter: Faith leaders condemn bills targeting LGBTQ+

These bills contribute to an environment where LGBTQ+ young people already face bullying in schools and experience greater struggles with depression, chemical dependency and suicide.

Letter to the editor FSA

The 2023 Legislature has over a month of work under its belt, with hundreds of bills being considered by our state representatives and senators. As they consider these bills, we hope each legislator is guided by spiritual values we all hold dear – values such as compassion, kindness, charity and love for all people created in the image of God.

However, as ordained and lay faith leaders from across North Dakota, we believe a number of bills fall short of those shared values. More than 20 bills target our LGBTQ+ family, friends, neighbors, and parishioners. These bills contribute to an environment where LGBTQ+ young people already face bullying in schools and experience greater struggles with depression, chemical dependency and suicide.

These bills run the gamut from banning trans athletes from participating in school sports to endorsement of conversion therapy – a long discredited and dangerous practice. These fear-based bills are efforts to remove people from participating fully as members of our society, Church and communities.

Those who support these bills argue they will somehow protect our kids. They will not, because the real threats to children across this country are poverty, hunger, lack of health care, gun violence, bigotry, social pressures, mental health… and bills like these.

We believe God calls us to love one another and care for the needy. We believe Jesus preached a Gospel that embraces the marginalized. We believe that LGBTQ+ people are beloved children of God. We call on our legislators to oppose bills that would harm the people of North Dakota, and support legislation that reflects the true values of North Dakotans – values that guide us to care for one another and build a state that welcomes everyone.


Phyllis Johnson, vice president, Eastern ND Synod ELCA, Grand Forks; Rev. Gretchen Daneke Graf, Grand Forks/East Grand Forks; Rev. Joe A. Larson, Fargo; Bishop Tessa Moon Leiseth, Fargo; Rev. Deborah J Blood, Fargo; Rev. Gretchen Deeg, Bismarck; Bishop Craig A. Schweitzer, Bismarck; The Right Rev. Thomas C. Ely, Bishop Provisional, Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota; Reverend Edith A. Love, Fargo-Moorhead; Rev. Dr John Floberg, Ft. Yates, Cannon Ball and Selfridge; Pastor Gail Hagerty, Mandan; Rev Dr Gretchen Daneke Graf, Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, Minn; Mr. Murray G. Sagsveen, Bismarck; Rev. Grace Morton, Fargo; Pastor Jon B. Olson; Rev. Donna Olsen,; Hannah Vanorny, Bismarck; Pastor Leanne Simmons, Bismarck; Rev. Dr. Peter and Vicki Schmidt, ELCA--retired, sServing LaMoure, N.D. parish as Interim Pastor; Pastor Dick Smith; Bismarck; The Rev. Steven Godfrey, Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota; Deacon Ashley Tangen-Greenwood, Bismarck; Rev. Marty Toepke-Floyd, Jamestown; Pastor Tammy Toepke-Floyd, Jamestown; Rev. Derek Harkins, Bismarck; Sandra Holbrook, Fargo; Camille Grothier, Bismarck; Bill Patrie, Bismarck; Marcia Patrie, Bismarck; Rev. Sylvia Bull, Bismarck; Rev. Michelle Webber, Moorhead, Minn.; Pastor Micah Louwagie, Fargo; Rev. Zanne Ness, Bismarck; Peter Edwards, Fargo; Rev. Sharayah Robinson, Kathryn-Nome-Fingal Parish; Rev. Karen Van Fossan, Fargo; Deacon Beth Lipp, Bismarck; Pastor Laurie A. Natwick, Fargo; Amy Phillips, Fargo; Dan Rice, Fargo; Christie Iverson, Bismarck, Rev. Karl Kroger, Bismarck; Pastor Ray Baker, Fargo; Rev. Kyle Symanski, Valley City; Gerard and Loretta Hegstad, Mandan; Lisa Ahlness, Bismarck; Deacon Erin Power, Fargo; Rev. Martin Avery, serving Mayville and Gran; Stephanie Fournier, Surrey; Deacon Jodi Lorenz, Underwood; Debra Hoffarth, Minot; Rev. Janet Mathistad, retired, Minot; Rev. Rachel Simonson, Minot, Rev. Kathy Hintz, Minot; Barb Solberg, Minot; Rev. Jared Carson, Fargo; Rev. Ellery Dykeman and Denise Dykeman, Minot; Rev. Kim Gifford, Burlington; Rev. Natasha Woitzel-Kolles and Jared Kolles, Minot; Janet Fisher, Minot; Rev. Carol Wendel, Bottineau; Rev. Lisa Lewton, Dickinson; Pastor Connie Monson, Rugby; Rev. Helen Beth Kuhens, Fargo; Rev Bradley Dokken, The Rev. Kim Becker, Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota.

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