GOP legislator says she was ‘yelled at and intimidated’ on House floor by DFL colleague

“My interaction on Wednesday evening with Rep. Finke left me shaken and fearing for my personal safety," Rep. Dawn Gillman said.

Rep. Dawn Gillman, left, and Rep. Leigh Finke. (Minnesota House)

A Republican lawmaker was verbally accosted by a Democratic colleague on the House floor Wednesday because she shared a tweet from the organization Gays Against Groomers, she told Alpha News.

Rep. Dawn Gillman, R-Dassel, retweeted a post regarding legislation that would have removed existing language in Minnesota law stipulating that pedophilia is not a protected sexual orientation.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Leigh Finke, DFL-St. Paul, who confronted Gillman about the retweet. Gillman said she was “yelled at and intimidated” by Finke, who apparently shouted “no!” when a colleague suggested moving the conversation off the floor.

“My interaction on Wednesday evening with Rep. Finke left me shaken and fearing for my personal safety. Instead of coming to talk to me, I was yelled at and intimidated on the House Floor,” Gillman told Alpha News. She said that this type of behavior wouldn’t be tolerated in other workplaces.

The incident was corroborated by multiple representatives who were there. Gillman asked to be escorted to her car after session.

An amendment was unanimously passed to clarify that pedophilia is not a protected class after Finke’s legislation faced national criticism.

Rep. Harry Niska, R-Ramsey, offered an amendment to ensure that “we are not trying to create some sort of cause of action or protected class under the Minnesota Human Rights Act for pedophilia.”

The Human Rights Act currently states that “‘sexual orientation’ does not include a physical or sexual attachment to children by an adult.” Finke’s bill, which was included in the House omnibus civil law policy bill, seeks to remove that language from state statute.

“The bill updates outdated language that incorrectly ties pedophilia to a person’s sexual orientation. Nothing in the bill changes or weakens any of the crimes against children in our criminal statute or the state’s ability to prosecute those who break the law,” said Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, DFL-Roseville, who authored the omnibus bill.

Finke did not respond to a request for comment but addressed the criticism of the bill on Twitter, saying there “was never a controversy” regarding the bill.

“The past 36 hours in this job have been the most difficult so far. I’ve been confronted, called the worst things possible, threatened with murder. The volume has been greater than at any point. All for a lie told about a small bill that changes nothing about sexual orientation,” Finke wrote.

One of Finke’s colleagues, Rep. Brion Curran, DFL-Vadnais Heights, called Gillman a bully, saying that she got her feelings hurt “after spreading misinformation and refusing to have a civil conversation about it face to face like an adult.”

Minnesota Family Council also addressed the situation, saying they wish that the authors of the bill would’ve realized earlier the “potentially extremely dangerous direction this legislation could lead.”

“Just to be very clear: yesterday’s unanimous vote shows that our concerns were grounded in fact, and Minnesota legislators realized that,” the group said. “We hope this is the start of a new bipartisan drive to protect Minnesota’s kids from exploitation.”

Alpha News reached out to the House DFL Caucus for comment but did not receive a response.


Hayley Feland

Hayley Feland previously worked as a journalist with The Minnesota Sun, The Wisconsin Daily Star, and The College Fix. She is a Minnesota native with a passion for politics and journalism.