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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R)

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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 news 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 (MHRA), 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 legislative session that Democrats had at least temporarily blocked a Republican attempt at restoring religious freedom language to the MHRA, following committee votes in both the House and Senate.

“Religious freedom served as the bedrock of our nation’s founding,” said State Representative Josh Heintzeman, R- Nisswa. “It is a fundamental freedom that all of us enjoy as Americans. That’s why it has been so concerning to watch Democrats in Minnesota explicitly remove religious exemptions on important topics including gender identity. The state should not be allowed to compel churches and other religious institutions to accept the state’s definition of gender. I will continue to fight for religious freedom for all Minnesotans no matter what faith tradition you subscribe to.”


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.