Bismarck, ND – This afternoon, the North Dakota House took the history-making step of voting for the immediate expulsion of Rep. Luke Simons (R-Dickinson) as a member of the legislature for District 36. The vote passed by a count of 69-25. All 25 members who cast a vote in favor of Rep. Luke Simons – and against numerous female staff, legislators, and interns who reported abusive and harassing behavior at his hands – were NDGOP legislators. Now-former Rep. Luke Simons becomes infamous as the first member of the North Dakota Legislature in at least 100 years – if ever – to be expelled.
Democratic-NPL Chair, Kylie Oversen said:
“As someone who has experienced sexual harassment and assault, the words spoken on the floor of the House today mattered to me and to so many others who have experienced the same. The vote to expel mattered even more. It was a strong statement that this behavior is not acceptable in the workplace or anywhere. We applaud the brave women who took a difficult, and courageous stand against shamefully inappropriate and sexist behavior by coming forward and reporting the harassment to which they were subjected. We also thank our Democratic-NPL Caucus for standing up for these women – and all women – who, far too often, find themselves being violated. Although going on four years too late, we also thank those NDGOP legislators who voted in favor of expulsion, and especially commend the NDGOP women who shared such powerful testimony.”
“While Luke Simons is now no longer allowed to use his position to prey on women, many troubling questions still remain. Why was Rep. Louser’s, and other NDGOP leaders, first instinct to blame victims and make excuses for Simons directly to female staff impacted by his harassment? Why was no substantive action taken by the NDGOP until these incident reports became public? How can 25 NDGOP legislators possibly justify their vote to support an indignant person without moral fiber, lacking in remorse, and expressing zero willingness to ever change his habitual degrading, and depraved behavior? Whatever the answers may be, we must continue to demand accountability.”
As we celebrate and remember the women we hold dear in our lives during Women’s History Month, we realize that while we have made much progress in our country since its founding, there is a still a long ways to go to ensure the essential rights of all women, and the basic protections necessary to embolden women to tell their stories, and speak out against all forms of abuse. In honor of the women in our lives, the Dem-NPL encourages you to make a contribution to the North Dakota Women’s Network or to your local domestic violence resource center.