Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Walter Hudson (R)

Back to profile

Hudson: A win for religious freedom amid additional concerns

Wednesday, May 8, 2024


ST. PAUL – The House on Tuesday approved a variation of House Republicans legislation, amending the Minnesota Human Rights Act to re-establish protections for religious entities against discrimination claims.

Rep. Walter Hudson, R-Albertville, said he is pleased House Republicans took a major step toward restoring religious freedom which Minnesota Democrats stripped from faith-based organizations last year. That said, Hudson also indicated other potential actions by Democrats in full control of the Capitol could deal an even larger setback to Minnesotans’ freedoms.

“The Democrats’ attack on our fundamental religious liberty has taken an insidious turn,” Hudson said. “While churches and religious organizations can take a brief sigh of relief as the religious exemption for ‘gender identity’ has been restored in statute, this is not a moment to claim final victory for two key reasons.

“First, we must consider the audacity and arrogance which motivated the Democrats’ violation of our rights to begin with. They have offered no apologies. Quite the contrary, at every step along the way, members of the Minnesota faith community have been treated with vile disrespect by Democrats – compared to chattel slavers, told their beliefs are wrong, and accused of preaching 'hate.' This retreat was not out of respect, but electoral fear.

“Second, this is a bait and switch. While the Democrats are retreating on the statutory front, they are moving full steam ahead with their so-called ‘Equal Rights Amendment,’ which will strike a significantly greater blow to religious liberty and freedom of conscience. This tactical retreat is part of a larger strategy to comprehensively strip Minnesotans of their freedom.”

Hudson said Tuesday's action was necessary due to HRA legislation Democrats enacted in 2023, eliminating 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.

“With these realities in mind, we should nevertheless congratulate those happy warriors who rose from the community to demand the restoration of our rights,” Hudson said. “Thank you for engaging, organizing, contacting legislators, rallying, and not backing down. Particular thanks is due to the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the Minnesota Family Council, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, Restore Minnesota, and especially to those bold clergy and pastoral leaders who shepherded their folks into action.”

The bill (H.F. 4109) unanimously passed the Senate earlier Tuesday and, with the House also providing unopposed approval, it is now on Gov. Tim Walz’s desk for enactment.