Senate lawmakers shot down a bill Thursday that would have given gay and lesbian North Dakotans the weight of state law behind legal battles against employers or landlords who discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Senate Bill 2252 failed by a 21-26 vote. It was a step back for the state, said Rep. Josh Boschee, D-Fargo, after the Senate voted for a similar bill in 2009, though it failed in the House. “It’s easier for people (to vote against it,) who don’t experience these things,” said Boschee, a co-sponsor of the bill and North Dakota’s first openly gay legislator. “I was hoping it would pass, but it did get some new votes.” The bill would have added the term, “sexual orientation” to the North Dakota Human Rights Act, under the state law, which passed in 1983. The law allows individuals to seek recourse if they are discriminated against based on their age, gender, race and disability, among others.