Featured Image
Minnesota Democratic Rep. Samantha VangYouTube screenshot

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (LifeSiteNews) — Minnesota residents may soon end up on a government database if they discuss the origins of COVID-19 or quote Bible verses that criticize homosexuality.

Minnesota’s Democrat-controlled legislature last month approved a bill that requires the state Department of Human Rights to collect allegations of perceived “discrimination” or microaggressions in a new “bias” registry.

The proposal would allow people to submit reports of alleged “slurs or verbal attacks” and similar incidents, even if they do not constitute crimes, according to the St. Cloud Times.

Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation to create a bias registry in January before adding the language to a sweeping, left-wing public safety bill, Senate File 2909, which also imposes severe restrictions on gun ownership.

SF 2909 allocates $934,000 to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights to “gather, analyze, and report on discrimination and hate incidents throughout Minnesota” over the next two years.

It specifically requires the department to:

solicit, receive, and compile information from community organizations, school districts and charter schools, and individuals regarding incidents committed in whole or in substantial part because of the victim’s or another’s actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, national origin, or disability.

The bill does not explicitly prevent collecting names of reported offenders.

And it notably includes “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” as protected classes, meaning that opposition to LGBT ideology could land someone on the registry.

At a hearing about the measure in January, Minnesota Human Rights commissioner Rebecca Lucero said that the database would ensure that “little incidents” like perceived derogatory comments are “documented” and “tracked” by the government. She cited the hypothetical example of someone yelling a slur at a person on the side of the road while driving. 

For many such incidents, which “may not be criminal,” she said, “there is no coordinated, consistent tracking, reporting, analysis and recommendations for next steps,” Lucero lamented. 

“So, under this bill, if someone gets their feelings hurt, it generates an incident report with the state Department of Human Rights,” Minnesota Republican Rep. Walter Hudson tweeted in response.

Hudson blasted the initiative as a way “to manufacture legitimacy around the narrative of ‘hate’ as a growing problem and lobby further government action.”

“We should not be policing, tracking, or documenting speech.”

Minnesota Democrat: Talking about COVID origins could be a ‘bias incident’

Under Senate File 2909, so-called bias incidents could include everything from arguing that COVID-19 is a bioweapon to wearing a shirt supporting Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, according to one of the bill authors.

During debate on the House floor, Minnesota Republican Rep. Harry Niska pressed Democratic Rep. Samantha Vang on whether saying that coronavirus leaked from a Chinese lab should be logged in the bias registry.

“If a Minnesotan writes an article claiming or arguing that COVID-19 is a Chinese bio-weapon that leaked from a lab in Wuhan, and someone reports that article to the Department of Human Rights, is that something that the Department of Human Rights should put in their bias registry under your bill?” he asked.

Vang responded in the affirmative, saying such that arguments can “be considered a bias incident” because they are “bias motivated.”

COVID-19 is now widely believed to have emerged from a lab in Wuhan, China, though liberals originally derided the idea as a “conspiracy theory.”

READ: FBI director Christopher Wray tells Fox News COVID-19 ‘most likely’ came from Wuhan lab

Niska also asked Vang if wearing an “I love J.K. Rowling” t-shirt would be considered “gender identity or gender expression bias.” Rowling has criticized various aspects of transgender ideology.

“If a Minnesotan is wearing a t-shirt that says ‘I love J.K. Rowling’ and someone sees that and reports them to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights as an example of gender identity or gender expression bias, is that something that the Minnesota Department of Human Rights should put in this bias database?” Niska questioned.

“I’m not going to say yes or no to that question,” Vang responded.

She also suggested that referencing a Bible verse could get someone added to the registry.

Asked by Hudson whether posting a Bible quote on social media condemning “certain sexual proclivities” would be a reportable incident, Vang evaded the question. “Everyone is protected. No exceptions,” she said.

READ: UK pro-lifer arrested a second time for silently praying near abortion center

Senate File 2909, moreover, does not stipulate how or if the Minnesota Department of Human Rights would verify alleged incidents or prevent false reports, National Review noted. Democratic Rep. Jame Becker-Finn, a bill sponsor, indicated that the department would not vet allegations.

“The Department of Human Rights cannot control what people report to them. If the person reported it, then they would aggregate that data,” she said. 

Senate File 2909 is currently being finalized in a conference committee before heading to Democrat Governor Tim Walz’s desk, according to National Review.

Niska proposed an amendment specifying that the bill would only allow the Minnesota Department of Human Rights to collect information about crimes, but it failed after all but one Democrat voted against it.

Since taking full control of the Minnesota government last year for the first time since 2014, Democrats have quickly taken the state in a hard-left direction, codifying abortion up to birth and making Minnesota a “refuge” for child “gender transitions,” among other things.