A few hundred people filled the halls outside of the Minnesota Senate chambers Friday morning both in support of and opposition to three polarizing bills dealing with gender and abortion.
Protesters opposing the bills held signs saying “Vote no” and “We don’t co-parent with the government.” The bills being voted on included SF23, a conversion therapy ban, SF63, the “trans refuge” bill, and HF366, the “Reproductive Freedom Defense Act.”
BREAKING: The "trans refuge" bill has passed the Minnesota Senate. pic.twitter.com/OWdCkbbyCE
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) April 21, 2023
Activists in support of the bills held signs from Outfront Minnesota, a LGBTQ organization, and Unrestrict MN, an abortion rights organization.
The protests opposing the bills were organized by Minnesota Family Council and True North Legal. Protesters sang hymns and prayed prior to the start of the Senate session, while counter-protesters attempted to drown out their singing with chanting.
“Abortion is health care,” some activists yelled, while some pro-life protesters shouted “murder” instead of health care.
Rep. Leigh Finke, DFL-St. Paul, who authored the “trans refuge” bill in the Minnesota House, walked through the crowd, hugging the counter-protesters while they cheered, “We love Finke.”
Two participants with differing views told Alpha News that they believe it’s important to have one-on-one conversations.
George Hustead said he was there with his kids to support the rights of children and parents. “I want to be able to do what’s right according to my conscience and what I believe in,” Hustead said while holding a sign that read, “Say no to abortion extremism.”
“It is important to me that medical decisions, including gender-affirming care and abortion, are between the person and their medical provider. Nobody else,” Kathleen Quinn told Alpha News.
Quinn said that having conversations is extremely important. “I hear what he says, and he hears what I say,” she said. “Whether it will have any change in behavior, I don’t know. I’m just throwing it out there and we will see what happens.”
Hustead said he believes that at the heart of it, both he and Quinn want the same thing. “We just all have a basic desire to fit in and be loved and be safe and secure,” he said.
The trans refuge bill will make Minnesota a “safe haven” for trans children from states where sex-change operations and hormone therapies have been made illegal for minors. Attorneys say that the bill could result in out-of-state parents losing custody of their children if they object to so-called “gender affirming health care.”
Similarly, the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act seeks to protect women from out of state who come to Minnesota for abortions.
All three bills passed the Senate Friday afternoon.