Louisiana Senate votes to overturn Governor John Bel Edwards on ban on transgender athletes for women and girls

Trans pride flags | Ted Eytan via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

The Louisiana Senate again voted to ban transgender women and girls from participating in women’s and women’s sports, overturning Governor John Bel Edwards’ veto on the legislation. The House will also have to vote to override the governor so that the bill becomes law.

The Senate vote was 26-12, with all Republicans present voting to override the governor and all Democrats opposing it. One senator, Lake Republican Charles Ronnie Johns, was absent and will not attend the meeting after undergoing surgery.

A handful of Democrats who voted in favor of the bill in the regular legislative session traded their votes to oppose the veto waiver. Edwards, a Democrat, had exerted considerable pressure on Democrats to side with him against the veto waiver, mainly pushed by conservative Christians.

Louisiana veto exemptions are extremely rare. If the House accepts the veto, it would only be the third derogation from the veto of governors in the history of the state. The previous two were in the early 1990s. They dealt with abortion restrictions and a minor budget issue.

This is the first time that Louisiana lawmakers have remembered a veto override session in modern Louisiana history. Previous derogations from the veto occurred during ordinary legislative sessions.

Pro Tempore Senate Speaker Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, is the author of the ban on transgender athletes. She said legislation is needed to protect women and girls from having to compete with transgender women and girls in sport – although there have been no cases of transgender girls and women participating in sports events in high school or college in Louisiana.

Louisiana business leaders have publicly stated over the past two days that this law could negatively affect Louisiana’s ability to attract major conferences, conventions and sporting events. Some organizations refuse to do business in states that pass laws that discriminate against transgender people.

The NCAA has suggested it would consider removing sporting events from states that pass laws they deem discriminatory against transgender people. New Orleans is set to host the NCAA men’s basketball final in 2022. There are also fears that the film industry will avoid Louisiana if the ban on transgender athletes becomes law.

“You can’t have it both ways. Either you want business to come from Louisiana or you want to discriminate, ”said Senator Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, who opposed the bill and the veto waiver.

Mizell called NCAA threats to remove Louisiana sporting events “extortion.”

“There’s a lot more going on in Louisiana that makes us less attractive than this bill,” Mizell said.

The Senate is expected to pass further veto waivers later today. In total, the governor vetoed 28 individual bills and construction projects over three other pieces of state budget legislation.


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