The North Dakota Women’s Network serves as a catalyst for improving the lives of women. Our organization passed a resolution to stand against Measure 3 for the core reasons our mission implies.
The language of the measure will create loopholes due to the lack of protection for individuals’ civil rights.
What does this mean? It means people who break a law or discriminate against another person have a protected defense and that the state must prove (in court) otherwise.
If Measure 3 passes, it could allow a person to take advantage and use personal religious beliefs to claim the right to break important laws that are meant to protect all of us, like laws against abuse and discrimination.
For example, an employer could use religious beliefs to fire a pregnant woman because she is unmarried.
Let’s think this through. We now have a single mother unemployed and struggling to care for the welfare of her family. Her employer would have a protected defense for his action and a judge would have to determine otherwise.
Supporters of Measure 3 claim that concerns about abuse and discrimination aren’t warranted because the government has a compelling interest to protect victims in those situations. However, Measure 3 would mean the government would have to prove its case each and every time someone takes advantage of the law — giving those people the upper hand while taxpayers foot the bill for endless litigation. Most importantly, it would delay the state’s ability to protect women and children.
Measure 3 is worded very differently than laws in other states intended to protect religious freedom; it’s like comparing apples to oranges.
The truth is, Measure 3 could lead to endless litigation and serious, even harmful, consequences for North Dakotans.
(JoNell Bakke, Grand Forks, and Melissa Gillett, Tolna, are co-chairwomen of the North Dakota Women’s Network.)