Legislature creates state council for LGBTQ Minnesotans
LGBTQ+ Pride flags. Photo by Susan J. Demas/Michigan Advance.
The Minnesota Legislature this year created a state council to implement “economic, social, legal and political equality” for LGBTQ residents.
The new Council on LGBTQIA2S+ — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning, intersex, asexual, two-spirit, and more — Minnesotans will advise the governor and Legislature on bills, act as a liaison between advocacy organizations and the government and conduct studies focused on problems facing LGBTQ residents.
“An official council of the state of Minnesota — whose lens is the health, wellness, and inclusion of LGBTQIA2S+ people in Minnesota — ensures that no matter who’s in the Legislature, no matter who’s in power, that voice is always there and represented,” said Sen. Erin Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley.
Maye Quade, a lead author of the bill creating the council, said lawmakers for years have attempted to establish an LGBTQ council, but the legislation was defeated or stalled by Republican legislators.
The Council on LGBTQIA2S+ Minnesotans is the seventh government council created to advocate for minority communities. The others, including the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and the Minnesota Council on Disability, have similar missions to advocate for the well being of people in their communities.
Maye Quade, who is a lesbian, said the LGBTQ council is needed now because of the hostility against queer and gender nonconforming people demonstrated by other state legislatures.
This year, 80 anti-trans bills have been passed across the U.S., according to the Trans Legislation Tracker.
“In light of increasing attacks from state legislatures on our community, it is now more important than ever to have an official space where we seek out and support the contributions of our community,” Maye Quade said.
The Legislature allocated about $1 million to the new council for fiscal years 2024 and 2025, which is less than the other councils received for the same biennium.
The government councils differ from nonprofits and advocacy groups, Maye Quade said, because they are able to represent Minnesotans from a wide variety of job sectors, ethnicities and ages, whereas nonprofits usually have targeted missions.
In February, during the first hearing for the bill creating the LGBTQ council, Republican senators questioned why the council was needed, because state agencies already have diversity and equity programs — which includes LGBTQ training and initiatives.
“We’re just basically paying people to go to meetings,” said Sen. John Jasinski, R-Faribault. “I think we could spend taxpayers’ money way better.”
The council will have 16 members — 12 people appointed by the governor and four legislators. Council members, except the lawmakers, will be paid $55 for each day spent on council work and will be reimbursed for some expenses. The law says the council must have its first meeting by Sept. 15.
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