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

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RELEASE: Rep. Heintzeman: Republicans on brink of restoring religious freedom in Minnesota

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

ST. PAUL – State Rep. Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, said Republicans have taken a major step toward restoring religious freedom which Minnesota Democrats stripped from faith-based organizations last year.

The House on Tuesday approved legislation pertaining to the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) 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 overwhelming approval, it is now on Gov. Tim Walz’s desk for enactment.

“Few things are more foundational to our constitutional republic than freedom of religion,” Heintzeman said. “It is enshrined in our state and federal constitutions and is the bedrock from which our nation was founded. That’s why I was so concerned by changes in law made by Democrats last year that stripped important religious protections for churches and other religious organizations. Our vote on Tuesday was an important one that restored these protections to make sure everyone in Minnesota has the freedom to practice their religion without fear of coercion from the state government.”

Heintzeman said this move was necessary due to MHRA legislation that Democrats enacted in 2023, that stripped 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.