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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Marj Fogelman (R)

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Thursday, May 9, 2024

ST. PAUL – State Representative Marj Fogelman (R-Fulda) said Republicans have taken a major step toward restoring religious freedom which Minnesota’s majority party stripped from faith-based organizations last year.


On May 7, the legislature approved legislation pertaining to the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) to re-establish protections for religious entities against discrimination claims. 


“We are one step away from saving this religious freedom,” Fogelman said. “It's a small victory, but so critical for those whose religious beliefs are important to them and the church they attend. Under this provision, churches would once again be free to hire people that align with their spiritual beliefs.”


Fogelman said this move was necessary due to MHRA legislation that the majority party enacted in 2023, that stripped religious protections that had been in place since 1993. Before last year, when gender identity was included 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. Fogelman said the approved legislation would return that exemption.


The bill is now on Gov. Tim Walz’s desk for enactment.


Fogelman warned that this may not be the only religious topic lawmakers discuss before session ends on May 20.


“Residents should know about majority party legislation labeled as the Equal Rights Amendment,” Fogelman said. “In purposely confusing language, it would ask voters to amend the state’s Constitution to allow abortions up to 40 weeks. I will be sure to keep you informed of the bill’s progress.”