Controversial ‘Equal Rights Amendment’ clears key House committee 

Faith leaders plan to hold a rally at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the Capitol rotunda to voice their opposition to the ERA. 

Betty Folliard, founder of ERA Minnesota, and Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, testify before the House Rules Committee Monday. (Minnesota House Info/YouTube)

A proposed “Equal Rights Amendment” to the Minnesota Constitution would go before voters in the 2026 election under language approved by a key committee Monday.

The language of the amendment, called the ERA for short, has been sharply criticized by faith leaders who say its name is misleading because it would threaten the safety of women and undermine religious liberty.

“What’s at stake here is not so much equal rights for women, but rather I would say a kind of imposition of the sexual revolution on the people of our state,” Bishop Robert Barron of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester said in a video released this week.

If approved, the following language would be inserted into the Minnesota Constitution:

“All persons shall be guaranteed equal rights under the laws of this state. The state shall not discriminate against any person in intent or effect on account of one or more of the following: (a) race; (b) color; (c) national origin; (d) ancestry; (e) disability; or (f) sex, including but not limited to: (i) making and effectuating decisions about all matters relating to one’s own pregnancy or decision whether to become or remain pregnant; (ii) gender identity or gender expression; or (iii) sexual orientation.”

Cathy Blaeser, co-executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, said the proposed amendment “conceals abortion up to birth in innocuous language and attempts to dupe Minnesota citizens who overwhelmingly oppose unlimited abortion into unknowingly voting for just that.”

“Combatting discrimination is in fact a compelling governmental interest, but we oppose this version of the ERA because of, among other reasons, its lack of protection against discrimination based on religion, which should be troubling to all Minnesotans,” Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, told lawmakers Monday.

“The practical effect of this omission is that it communicates as a matter of our fundamental law that protecting people from religious discrimination, whether they practice a religion or not, is not a compelling governmental interest, and that claims of anti-religious bias or discrimination by state actors will receive less judicial scrutiny than claims based on other identities enumerated in the text,” he added.

Additionally, Renee Carlson, general counsel for True North Legal, said the ERA “displaces and erases women” because of its inclusion of language related to “gender identity or gender expression.”

“A person’s subjective sense of self, however it is expressed, will be the arbiter, putting programs and opportunities that give women special treatment in legal jeopardy,” she said.

Betty Folliard, founder of ERA Minnesota, told legislators that the ERA is “designed to rectify historic injustices that too often continue to thwart people’s progress.”

“Just as our state has evolved, so has the language of the ERA. The ERA today explicitly offers protections in our strongest legal document to repair systemic inequalities. It will help to dismantle structural racism, sexism, pay inequity, sexual violence, pregnancy discrimination, health care disparities, the pink tax, and more,” she said.

The amendment passed out of the House Rules Committee on a party-line vote Monday and can now be calendared and taken up by the full House before the end of session on May 20.

Faith leaders plan to hold a rally at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the Capitol rotunda to voice their opposition to the ERA.


Anthony Gockowski

Anthony Gockowski is Editor-in-Chief of Alpha News. He previously worked as an editor for The Minnesota Sun and Campus Reform, and wrote for the Daily Caller.