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Bill would remove gays, lesbians from state protection

St. Paul, Minn. — Lawmakers have been swamped with calls and e-mails over a bill that would remove state human rights protections for gays and lesbians. The bill was introduced Thursday by State Rep. Arlon Lindner, R-Corcoran. The legislation would repeal a 1993 provision that added gays and lesbians to a list of groups covered under the state's human rights law.

If the bill is enacted, Minnesota would become the first state to repeal human rights protections for gays and lesbians. Rep. Lindner says the law has allowed advocates of homosexuality to promote their cause in classrooms across the state.

State Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, is the bill's most vocal opponent. He is the only openly gay member of the Senate. Dibble says Rep. Lindner is seeking a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

Dibble says he expects the bill to pass easily in the House, but he is working to see that its defeated in the Senate.

The final outcome could depend on whether Gov. Tim Pawlenty takes a stand on the bill. As a freshman legislator, Pawlenty voted in 1993 to include sexual orientation in the human rights law, which prohibits certain forms of discrimination based on such factors as race, ethnicity, religion and disability status.

But when Pawlenty campaigned last year for the Republican endorsement for governor, he said he regretted that vote.

MPR's All Things Considered host Lorna Benson spoke with Rep. Lindner and Sen. Dibble.

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