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Protest ensues after Thursday nondiscrimination vote

BISMARCK -- A group of about 45 people stood outside a Bismarck lawmakers house Thursday night in protest of a Senate vote that killed a bill to outlaw discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.

Protest organizer Kevin Tengesdal, of Bismarck, a constituent of Republican Sen. Margaret Sitte, who voted against the bill, called the protest a vigil, to "be awake to the plight of discrimination and to hold a silent memorial at the death of the Senate bill."

Senate Bill 2252 failed Thursday by a 21-26 vote. It would have included "sexual orientation" to state law to allow LGBT individuals to seek recourse against a landlord or employer who evicts or fires someone based on their sexual orientation.

Tengesdal joined more than 20 other people testifying in favor of the bill during its three-hour original hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Tengesdal said Sitte was chosen because she represents him and many other constituents upset about the vote, and, "allegedly, she had lead the charge both in committee and behind the scenes to kill this bill," he said.

Sitte said she's confused as to why she was targeted, since Bismarck has four other Senators, all who voted against the bill.

She said the idea that she lead the charge to kill the bill is, "absolutely a misinterpretation," and "completely untrue."

Tengesdal was surprised by the number of people that showed up, since it was put together within six hours.

"It was a quiet and peaceful vigil on the public sidewalk in front of her home," he said.

The group stood outside with signs, candles and glow sticks, facing the street for about an hour, he said.

"This is North Dakota, if people want to have a peaceful demonstration they are more than welcome to," Sitte said.