Utah governor vetoes transgender athlete bill

Governor Spencer Cox of Utah on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have banned young transgender athletes from participating in women’s sp...


Governor Spencer Cox of Utah on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have banned young transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports, becoming the second Republican governor in two days to reject such legislation.

Republican lawmakers, however, plan to override the veto on Friday, State Senator J. Stuart Adams, a Republican, said in a declaration.

Eleven other states have enacted similar laws in recent years as the sports participation of transgender girls and women becomes an increasingly contentious topic among political leaders and sports organizations.

Mr. Cox, a first-term governor who will be re-elected in 2024, said in a declaration that while “politically it would be much easier and better for me to just sign the bill”, he chose to veto it because he “tried to do what I think was the right thing, regardless of the consequences”.

Three state legislatures – in Kansas, Louisiana and North Dakota – passed similar bills targeting transgender athletes last year which were eventually vetoed by their governors.

And on Monday, Governor Eric Holcomb of Indiana, a Republican, vetoed a similar billclaiming that it would likely have been challenged in court and would not have solved any pressing issues.

Mr. Cox’s veto of the bill reflected various political and personal equations in a state still receptive to a moderate brand of republicanism exemplified by Sen. Mitt Romney, local politicians and analysts said.

These factors included concern that anti-transgender legislation was bad at attracting and retaining business, Mr. Cox’s own history of being sensitive to LGBTQ concerns, and a frustration with lawmakers from his own party who blindsided him. on March 4 when they approved a last- minute version of the bill.

Republican Utah state senators had bypassed negotiations with LGBTQ rights advocates and Democrats in the state, who had spent weeks working on a compromise and believed the bill would be retained for the next legislative session.

Instead, Republicans decided hours before the session ended that only an outright ban on transgender athletes in youth sports would garner the minimum 15 votes needed to pass the bill.

The Utah House of Representatives then approved the amended bill.

State Sen. Daniel McCay, who introduced the proposed ban and defended it in the state Senate, said he was disappointed with the governor’s decision to veto the bill. Mr McCay, a Republican, said it was unfair for girls who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth to play against transgender girls.

He said of transgender youth: “Maybe that choice impacts their availability to play competitive sports at the high school or college level.

Opponents of his bill disagreed, saying the measure was discriminatory and would harm the mental health of transgender youth.

Mr. Cox quickly denounced the bill after it was passed. He had met with lawmakers weeks earlier and expressed support for creation of a commission of experts which would determine eligibility in individual cases. Some lawmakers and transgender rights advocates have also pushed back against the idea.

Instead, the invoice that arrived on Mr. Cox’s desk totally prohibited “for the male sex to compete against another school in a team designated for female students”. If a court struck down the measure, he said, the expert commission would be set up.

After lawmakers approved the legislation, Mr. Cox addressed the transgender community at a press conference, saying, “We care about you. We love you. It’s going to be OK.”

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, an LGBTQ rights organization, said the governor has been quick to champion and support the LGBTQ community in recent years, often at the risk of facing political backlash from his side.

The governor, he said, has “helped help us ban conversion therapy in the state” in 2020, when Mr. Cox was lieutenant governor.

In 2016, Mr. Cox wept as he delivered a speech a day after 49 people were killed at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and apologized for not treating gay students in her class in rural Utah “with kindness, dignity and the respect – the love – they deserved”.

“My heart has changed,” he told the crowd. “It changed because of you. He changed because I got to know a lot of you. You have been patient with me.

But others said practical concerns and agendas also played a role.

Joshua Ryan, an associate professor of political science at Utah State University, said that because the state’s tech industry has increased in recent yearsMr. Cox and other moderate state lawmakers don’t want headlines about transgender legislation.

“I think the governor and a lot of other Republican lawmakers don’t want to draw national media attention to a culture war issue,” he said.

Matthew Burbank, a professor of political science at the University of Utah, said the governor’s veto could also be a tactical response to being “completely left out.”

He added that the “mixed messages” from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about being transgender complicate people’s reaction. Utah has the largest population of church members in the country.

Although church leaders “do not take a position on the causes of people who identify as transgender,” according to the church’s website, they frown on the transition and will limit church practices for those who identify as transgender. make.

Giulia Heyward contributed report.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Utah governor vetoes transgender athlete bill
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