Veto on transgender sports ban likely to be overturned in Utah
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Republican lawmakers in Utah were gearing up for a push Friday to overturn Gov. Spencer Cox’s veto of legislation banning young transgender athletes from playing on girls’ teams, a move that comes amid of a national culture war over transgender issues.
Cox was the second GOP governor this week to overrule state lawmakers on a ban on sports participation, and his letter of veto captured national attention with a poignant argument that these laws target vulnerable children who have already high rates of suicide attempts. Business leaders are sounding the alarm that this could have a multi-million dollar economic impact for the state, including the possible loss of the NBA All-Star Game in less than a year.
But they have the support of a vocal conservative base that is particularly influential in Utah State’s primary season now unfolding. Eleven other states have passed similar bans, and Arizona lawmakers voted to join them on Thursday.
Leaders of the deeply conservative legislature say they must pass the law to protect women’s sports. As cultural shifts increase LGBTQ visibility, lawmakers argue that transgender athletes may have a physical advantage and could eventually dominate the field and change the nature of women’s sport.
Utah has only one transgender girl playing K-12 sports who would be affected by the ban. There has been no allegation that any of Utah’s four young transgender athletes have a competitive advantage.
Utah Jazz owner, tech entrepreneur Ryan Smith, tweeted his opposition to the bill, saying it was “rushed, flawed and won’t hold up.” I hope we can find a better way.
The team is also partly owned by NBA star Dwyane Wade, who has a transgender daughter.
Salt Lake City is set to host the NBA All-Star Game in February 2023. League spokesman Mike Bass said the league is “working closely” with the Jazz on the matter.
The Visit Salt Lake group, which organizes conferences, shows and events, said the waiver could cost the state $50 million in lost revenue. Utah-based DNA testing genealogy giant Ancestry.com also urged the legislature to find another way.
On Thursday, hundreds gathered at the state Capitol to urge lawmakers not to override the veto.
Utah has always been among the most conservative states in the nation. But an influx of new residents and tech companies coupled with the growing influence of the tourism industry often sets the stage for heated debate over social issues in the state that is home to the Church of Jesus Christ of Saints. of the Last Days.
Friday’s deliberations come after more than a year of debate and negotiation between social conservatives and LGBTQ advocates. The Republican sponsor, Rep. Kera Birkeland, worked with Cox and civil rights activists at Equality Utah before introducing legislation that would require transgender student-athletes to appear before a government-appointed commission.
The proposal, although presented as a compromise, failed to gain traction on either side. LGBTQ advocates took issue with Republican politicians appointing commission members and judging criteria that included body measurements such as hip-to-knee ratio.
Then, in the final hours before the Legislature adjourned earlier this month, GOP lawmakers overrode the legislation with an outright ban.
The measure was not originally passed with veto-proof majorities, but its supporters say they have since swayed enough Republican lawmakers to secure a waiver.
Lawmakers are planning legal challenges similar to the bans blocked in Idaho and West Virginia. The Utah policy would revert to the commission if the courts end the ban.
The looming threat of a lawsuit worries school districts and the Utah High School Athletic Association, which said it lacked funds to defend the policy in court. On Friday, lawmakers are expected to amend the bill so that state money covers legal costs.
Read the original article here