An attempt by Republicans in Louisiana to revive a bill banning transgender students from playing sports failed Wednesday after lawmakers failed to muster enough support to override the governor’s veto.
Had they been successful, a bill banning transgender girls from playing school sports would have advanced even though Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) vetoed it last month, calling it a discriminatory solution to “a problem which simply does not exist “.
Wednesday’s result was a blow to Republicans who took historic steps to overturn the governor’s decision on the issue. Rallying with transgender legislation last week, the state’s GOP convened a special veto session for the first time in decades.
The strategy was “democracy in action,” Louisiana GOP House President Clay Schexnayder said on Friday. On Monday, he boasted that he was “100% comfortable” that his party overturned the veto, which requires a two-thirds majority in both the state House and Senate.
But despite success in the Senate on Wednesday, Republicans lacked two votes in the House. Although a Democrat joined their ranks, a GOP lawmaker and an independent opposed the veto waiver.
Some of the most passionate remarks against the bill on Wednesday came from Rep. Royce Duplessis (R), who tore up the GOP’s argument that transgender girls have an unfair advantage in school sports.
“This bill will not protect our daughters,” he told his fellow lawmakers. “This bill will only ostracize and further alienate the most vulnerable and marginalized children in our state, children who suffer from extraordinary levels of depression, abuse, suicide and violent attacks, which often often very often end in death. We may not want to accept or understand the challenges our transgender youth face, but they are children, and they are our children, and their lives matter.
These children, he stressed, “are not on a mission to dominate sport. They are not. They are on a mission just to survive.
Several similar bills were passed in GOP-controlled legislatures across the country this year. So far, more than a dozen have become law. Several anti-transgender bills are currently being challenged in the courts, and some have already been overturned. On the same day as the vote in Louisiana, federal judges blocked an Arkansas ban on gender-affirming care for minors and a West Virginia law that also affected transgender youth in sports.
Representative Joe Stagni, the only Republican in the House who sided with the Democrats on the issue, could face a backlash from his party. Louisiana State GOP President Louis Gurvich released a declaration after the vote, saying Republicans will try to recall Stagni.
Louisiana Republicans also did not overturn any of Edwards’ other vetoes, including one on legislation removing restrictions on concealed handguns.
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