In the early morning hours Friday, the Minnesota House voted 68-62 to pass a bill that would welcome transgender people from other states seeking gender-affirming health care.
The bill, which has yet to be considered in the Senate, would protect transgender people, their families and medical practitioners from extradition orders and legal repercussions for traveling to Minnesota to receive gender-affirming care.
"To all those families across the United States that are afraid and wondering where they can go for help," said Rep. Leigh Finke, DFL-St. Paul, the bill's sponsor and Minnesota's first transgender legislator, "Minnesota is saying: 'We see you, we love you and you belong here.'"
All the yes votes came from the DFL majority and all the no votes came from the GOP.
Rep. Gene Pelowski of Winona was the only DFLer to vote "no." DFL Rep. Dave Lislegard of Aurora did not vote.
None of the Republicans voted yes, but three did not vote on the bill. They were Reps. Brian Daniels of Faribault, Debra Kiel of Crookston and Dean Urdahl of Grove City.
The action came as GOP-led states across the country are proposing bans on gender-affirming medical services for minors, including new laws in Iowa and South Dakota.
The proposal would need to pass the Senate before it could go to Gov. Tim Walz's desk. The governor recently signed a symbolic executive order to protect patients and providers of gender-affirming care.
Finke said a law would be stronger than an executive order, which could be rescinded by a future governor.
House Republicans argued the bill undermines parental rights and puts children at risk because it doesn't include an age limit on the care.
"Democrats are going to tell you that this is what Minnesota voted for, but it is not," said House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring. "The vast majority of parents in Minnesota do not put these issues as a top concern for their children."
Medical practitioners who provide gender-affirming care in Minnesota said they've already seen a spike in calls and people traveling from other states.
Finke said the situation is "rapidly evolving" with more states banning care. North Dakota's legislature is considering criminalizing health care providers who give gender-affirming care to minors.