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Anderson: Big win for House Republicans on restoring religious freedom in Minnesota

Wednesday, May 8, 2024


ST. PAUL – State Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, said House Republicans took a major step toward restoring religious freedom which Minnesota Democrats stripped from faith-based organizations last year.

The House on Tuesday approved a variation of Republican legislation, amending the Minnesota Human Rights Act to re-establish protections for religious entities against discrimination claims. The bill unanimously passed the Senate earlier in the day and, with the House also providing unopposed approval, it now is on Gov. Tim Walz’s desk for enactment.

“It’s good to see we eventually did the right thing on this issue,” Anderson said. “I appreciate the efforts of people in our faith community who worked with legislators to come up with a bipartisan solution to restore religious freedom in our state.”

Anderson said this move was necessary due to HRA legislation Democrats enacted in 2023, eliminating religious protections that had been in place since 1993. Before last year, when gender identity was included (or subsumed) within the MHRA definition of sexual orientation, the still-existing religious exemption for sexual orientation covered gender identity claims as well. When a new, separate definition of gender identity was created last year, there was no corresponding religious exemption added.

“Whether the change in law last year was oversight or intent, at least one faith-based school already was facing a complaint due to the removal of protections for religious entities,” Anderson said. “It’s nice to see we got the job done to resolve this issue before it became an even bigger problem.”

Anderson said he is confident the courts ultimately would have ruled the change Democrats made last year unconstitutional. He also indicated he’s glad it didn’t get that far.