Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards has vetoed a bill that would have banned trans youth from competing in school sports.
Edwards, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, threw away Senate Bill 156, otherwise known as the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act”.
Despite sponsors openly admitting there was not a single recorded case of a trans athlete causing contention in the state, Republicans nevertheless sought to barrel in a ban dubbed “intolerable” by activists.
But Edwards, a storied attorney, vetoed the effort on Tuesday (22 June).
“As I have said repeatedly when asked about this bill, discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this bill was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana,” he wrote on his office’s website.
“Even the author of the bill acknowledged throughout the legislative session that there wasn’t a single case where this was an issue.
“Further, it would make life more difficult for transgender children, who are some of the most vulnerable Louisianans when it comes to issues of mental health. We should be looking for more ways to unite rather than divide our citizens.”
A piece of legislation packed with the words “equality” and “opportunity”, the bill would have barred trans teens from competing in K-12 schools and college sports teams.
It remains unclear if senator Beth Mizell, the Senate’s second-highest-ranking Republican who proposed the bill, will seek to override Edwards.
The measure glided through the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities, but with the legislative session done, lawmakers would now have to come back to call a special veto session to overturn Edwards.
Such a session has not been held by Louisiana lawmakers since 1976, the Associated Press reported.
Edwards joins an increasing number of state governors vetoing bans seeking to stop trans folk from taking part in school sports.
In the meantime, activists expressed their relief that the anti-trans sports ban won’t become a reality in Louisiana anytime soon.
“Bel Edwards’ veto of this discriminatory bill will prevent further discrimination towards transgender children in Louisiana,” said Alphonso David, the chief of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement.
“SB 156 was nothing more than a politically motivated bill that seeks to dehumanize transgender children.
“By vetoing this bill, Bel Edwards reminded legislators that any attempts to discriminate against transgender children is intolerable and will be defeated.”