Flares and electric lights on oil well pads illuminate low-hanging clouds near Watford City, North Dakota. Andrew Cullen hide caption

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In rural North Dakota, where Melanie Hoffert grew up on her family farm, discussing subjects like homosexuality and same-sex marriage is often considered taboo. Courtesy of Beacon Press hide caption

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Joel Heitkamp smiles while broadcasting in 2009 at AM radio station KFGO in Fargo, N.D. Elaine Thompson/AP hide caption

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Diane Gira (left) and Valerie Nelson (right) pose with their son, Madison, in their home near Wahpeton, N.D. Maggie Penman/NPR hide caption

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The small town of Wahpeton, N.D., is one of the places where conversations on same-sex marriage are playing out in schools, churches and families. Maggie Penman/NPR hide caption

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Colorado educators take part in a concealed carry course in Englewood, Colo., on Nov. 8. The course is open to all state school employees. Participants who complete the training are eligible to apply for a permit to carry a handgun. MATTHEW STAVER/Landov hide caption

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Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp stands on the docks as tribal crabbers unload their catch. The tribe has vowed to fight the oil train-to-ship terminals proposed for Grays Harbor. Ashley Ahearn/KUOW hide caption

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Abortion-rights supporters outside the Supreme Court in January for the annual March for Life. This week North Dakota and Colorado struck down ballot measures restricting abortion, while Tennessee passed an initiative that may result in restricted rights. Alex Wong/Getty Images hide caption

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A fireball goes up at the site of an oil train derailment in Casselton, N.D., in this Dec. 30 photo. The fiery crash left an ominous cloud over the town and led some residents to evacuate. Bruce Crummy/AP hide caption

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Dan Selvig says wetter conditions helped convince his family to shift their plantings to corn. John Ydstie/NPR hide caption

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President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation Chairman Dave Archambault II, left, and his wife Nicole Archambault, right, applaud as they watch a Cannon Ball flag day celebration, at the Cannon Ball powwow grounds in Cannon Ball, N.D., on June 13. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP hide caption

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