Press

Minnesota Introduces Bill to Remove Sexual Orientation from Human Rights Law

Date: 
February 10, 2003

Minneapolis, MN, February 10, 2003 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) joins Out Front Minnesota in condemning the Minnesota House of Representatives bill (House File 341) that, if passed, would not only remove sexual orientation from Minnesota's Human Rights Act, but would also remove the state's condemnation of the Nazi persecution of gays during the Holocaust.

"In a time when record numbers of fair-minded jurisdictions are doing the right thing by adding sexual orientation to their human rights ordinances, it's appalling that Minnesota conservatives would introduce a measure to rescind a long standing law prohibiting discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people," said Lorri L. Jean, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "It is disappointing that right wing forces in a state that is generally known for its fair treatment of all of its citizenry will now require fair-minded people to devote countless amounts of time and money to fighting this hateful and divisive measure."

NGLTF urges Minnesotans to call their representatives to express their outrage and urge them not to accede to this kind of bigotry. To find your representative, log on to http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us or call the Minnesota House of Representatives general information line at (800) 657-3550 or TTY (651) 296-9896.

See below for Out Front Minnesota's press release.

CONTACT:
Ann M. DeGroot, Executive Director, OutFront Minnesota
(612) 822-0127, ext. 107
Monica Meyer, Public Policy Director, OutFront Minnesota
(612) 822-0127, ext. 115

OUTFRONT MINNESOTA CONDEMNS ANTI-GAY BILL, CALLS ON GOVERNOR TO REPUDIATE CIVIL RIGHTS REPEAL EFFORT

(Minneapolis) OutFront Minnesota, the state's leading direct service and public policy organization serving the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) population of Minnesota, harshly condemns the introduction today of a bill in the Minnesota House of Representatives that would strip GLBT Minnesotans of all protection of their civil rights, and remove GLBT people from the scope of the state's hate crimes provisions.

"It is a disgrace to the enduring legacy of Minnesota as a leader in civil and human rights that such an incredibly mean-spirited piece of legislation would even see the light of day," declared OutFront Minnesota Executive Director Ann M. DeGroot. "When legislators stoop to endorsing Nazi persecution of gay people, you know the motivation is one of deep-seated prejudice," continued DeGroot, referring to the very first item identified in House File 341, which would rescind Minnesota's condemnation of Nazi persecution of gays in the Holocaust.

"The sheer scope of House File 341, which would not only repeal the 'sexual orientation' language in the Human Rights Act but also extract this category — and no other — from Minnesota's hate crimes provisions, while implicitly supporting Nazi tactics, is breathtaking," said OutFront Minnesota Public Policy Director Monica Meyer. "No other state in the country has ever extended such basic protections and later rescinded them. It is a sad day for fair-minded people in Minnesota and beyond."

The "sexual orientation" language was added to the Minnesota Human Rights Act in 1993, and in the ensuing ten years, has remained controversial among extremist conservatives. The Minnesota Family Council publicly declared that its repeal was one of its top legislative priorities (Star-Tribune, Jan. 23, 2003), and as a candidate for Governor, Tim Pawlenty announced that his vote in favor of the amendment was a vote he regretted (Politics in Minnesota, Nov. 29, 2001; Minnesota Public Radio, September 13, 2002). For the rest of Minnesotans, however, the amendment either has provided critical protection or had little impact.

"It is unconscionable that lawmakers who should be trying to get control of a state budget wildly out of control are instead distracted by demagoguery of an unprecedented virulence," DeGroot said. "Governor Tim Pawlenty should denounce this effort immediately."

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.