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Release: Republican push for religious freedom met with resistance from Democrats

Monday, March 25, 2024


Caleb Jungling, 651.296.5529

News Release 

ST. PAUL – Republican legislators ratcheted up their efforts today to address concerns surrounding religious freedom, only to be met with resistance from Democrats, resulting in a halt to the proposed initiative.

The day commenced with a press conference where numerous religious leaders from across the state rallied alongside Republicans, advocating for the restoration of the religious exemption within the Minnesota Human Rights Act. This measure aimed to safeguard religious institutions and faith-based schools from allegations of gender identity discrimination.

Subsequently, Democrats tabled a motion brought forth by House Republicans to advance legislation toward this objective. This marked the third instance this session where Democrats obstructed Republican endeavors to reinstate language pertaining to religious freedom in the MHRA, following prior committee votes in both the House and the Senate.

"Religious freedom is a key cornerstone to the founding and success of our nation. It saddens me that the majority has turned its back on it," remarked Representative Duane Quam (R-Byron).

Before the previous year, gender identity claims were encompassed within the MHRA's definition of sexual orientation, thus falling under the existing religious exemption. However, when a distinct definition for gender identity was established last year, no corresponding religious exemption was introduced. This development raised concerns within Minnesota's faith community, prompting collaborative efforts between House Republicans and religious leaders to formulate H.F. 3926. This bill aims to ensure that religious organizations and faith-based schools retain the ability to hire educators and clergy members in accordance with their mission and values.

It remains unclear if - or when - Democrats in the majority will allow the House to revisit the bill.