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Supporting women and working families at the forefront of Catholic advocacy as session starts 

Minnesota Catholic Conference 
Inside the Capitol 

Minnesota Catholic Conference staff are monitoring a flurry of bills including paid family leave, and a constitutional amendment that would empower judges to create new modes of discrimination based on the ambiguous concept of gender. 

Rebellion against the sexes 

There is much talk today of “identity politics.” The urgent question being what identity should guide our politics. The church proposes that our primary identity is as children of God created in his image — and created male and female (CCC 2333). We are all brothers and sisters, and we should treat one another, accordingly, living together in right relationship, that is, in justice and truth. 

Others propose that we define ourselves primarily by racial identity or a fluid construct of “gender.” The latter creates an internal war on one’s human nature by manipulating instead of receiving God’s gift of creation. It undermines the ability to form and participate in the natural family, thereby creating a society of atomized individuals beholden to the state. 

These principles were the core of MCC testimony against a proposed constitutional amendment to mandate gender equality. This so-called Equal Rights Amendment (H.F. 726) states: “Equality under the law shall not be abridged or denied on account of gender.” 

With proponents, we share the goal of stopping unjust discrimination against all persons. But making reasonable distinctions based on sex is often appropriate. Further, the state’s Human Rights Act already bans discrimination based on sex (including sexual orientation). 

The proposed amendment aims to empower judges to impose constitutional mandates in the name of equality that would be unlikely to pass legislatively, as well as erode conscience and religious liberty protections built into the Human Rights Act. 

The potential impacts of the amendment include mandating publicly subsidized fertility treatments or surrogacy arrangements for same-sex couples; mandating state-subsidized gender transition therapy and surgery; further entrenching abortion as a “right”; and allowing men to participate in women-only activities and spaces, undermining women’s safety and well-being. 

Paid Caregiver Leave 

Polling shows that Americans are increasingly delaying or forgoing starting a family altogether because of economic insecurity. A 2018 survey by the New York Times found that 44% of respondents reported not being able to afford more children, and 39% reported not having enough paid family leave time as a barrier to growing their family. 

Business trade associations and worker advocacy groups have been in gridlock for years about a family leave proposal favored by House Democrats that would use a new payroll tax to create the equivalent of a workers’ compensation style system for paid leave (H.F. 1200). MCC has communicated to legislators that H.F. 1200 is a reasonable way to create a family leave program, but the bill has no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate. 

In an effort to break the logjam, MCC participated in the bill’s hearing to remind lawmakers of the matter’s urgency and encourage them to find common ground for the common good. There are multiple ways in which a paid leave program could be constructed, and for anything to pass, it must recognize the reciprocal relationship and foster solidarity between employers and employees.