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RELEASE: Republican Push to Support Religious Freedom Again Met by Democrat Resistance

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

ST. PAUL, MN – Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature on Monday intensified their efforts to address an issue related to religious freedom. Democrats then put that project on indefinite hold.

The afternoon started with a press conference where dozens of religious leaders from around the state joined Republicans in calling for religious freedom to be restored in the Minnesota Human Rights Act, protecting religious organizations and faith-based schools against claims of gender identity discrimination.

Shortly thereafter, Democrats tabled a House Republican motion to bring forward legislation that would reinstate these protections into state law. It was the third time this session Democrats had at least temporarily blocked a Republican attempt at restoring religious freedom language to the HRA, following committee votes in both the House and Senate.

“It is extremely concerning that House and Senate Democrats refuse to restore the religious exemption within the Human Rights Act that had existed since 1993,” said State Representative Brian Daniels, R- Faribault. “Their outright hostility to the Minnesota faith community is alarming and a total rejection of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. No matter your religion, you should be able to exercise it without fear of government interference.”


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. This issue caused alarm among Minnesota’s faith community and House Republicans worked with religious leaders to craft H.F. 3926, which ensures religious organizations and faith-based schools can operate in ways consistent with their mission and values.

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