Religious groups accuse state Democrats of ‘tremendous act of hostility’

Democrats again shot down efforts to restore protections for religious institutions against claims of gender identity discrimination. 

Yusuf Abdulle of the Islamic Association of North America, left, and Jason Adkins of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, right, testify in support of an amendment to restore protections for religious organizations against claims of gender identity discrimination. (Minnesota Senate Media/YouTube)

A Democratic-controlled Minnesota Senate committee voted down an amendment overnight that would have restored protections for religious institutions against claims of “gender identity discrimination.”

Until last year, the Minnesota Human Rights Act included these protections for religious groups. That’s because “gender identity” was a part of the act’s definition of “sexual orientation.” However, Democrats in the Minnesota Legislature created a new, separate definition of gender identity last year without establishing a corresponding religious exemption. As such, religious groups now fear that they will face legal consequences for operating in accordance with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature have been met with resistance and hostility in their attempt to restore protections for religious institutions that disagree with the state’s views on gender. Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, put forward an amendment to a bill during a committee hearing early Tuesday morning that “restores the exemption in the Minnesota Human Rights Act that protects religious organizations and faith-based schools against claims of gender identity discrimination.”

“Without the amendment, this bill could create a revolving door between religious entities and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, where complaints could be filed against them simply for operating in accordance with their religious beliefs about men, women, marriage, and human sexuality. These beliefs are shared by many faith traditions,” Renee Carlson, president of True North Legal, told the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

Representatives from Catholic, Protestant and Islamic institutions testified in support of Limmer’s amendment.

“We are here because legislators have taken away the ability for religious institutions and their schools to, among other things, make decisions about staffing and curriculum that align with their values and mission. The request for this exemption has established unprecedented collaboration in Minnesota’s faith community,” said Jason Adkins of the Minnesota Catholic Conference.

“Unlike the religions which invite people to freely believe in some things that are unseen, what this new state gender identity mandate is asking of us is to deny the plain facts of what we can see with our own eyes or face legal penalties for refusing to do so. But biology is not bigotry and should not be characterized as such.

“To conclude, the removal of the exemption is a tremendous act of hostility to people of faith that makes the mantra of ‘One Minnesota’ appear to be less about unity and diversity where all are welcome and instead one of uniformity and conformity,” he continued.

The committee rejected the amendment in a 5-3 vote, with every Democrat who was present voting against it, including Sen. Judy Seeberger, who represents a swing district in the southeast metro.

Rep. Harry Niska, R-Ramsey, who has been leading the charge on the issue in the House, said the removal of the religious exemption for gender identity “could very well be the biggest infringement Democrats have committed against Minnesotans in recent memory.”

“There are some things you just don’t mess with in America, and religious freedom is at the top of the list,” said Niska, who noted that the Senate committee spent several hours discussing a series of “unserious” bills before voting on Limmer’s amendment after midnight Tuesday.

“House Democrats, Senate Democrats and Gov. [Tim] Walz had more than two weeks to step back off the ledge and do what’s right for Minnesotans. Instead, they only further entrenched themselves in their radical position that your religious freedoms take a back seat to the state’s rule, and the separation of church and state no longer exists in Minnesota.”


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.