Republicans fail to overturn Kansas governor’s veto on proposed ban on transgender athletes | News, Sports, Jobs

photo by: John Hanna / AP

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly answers questions from reporters following a visit to a daycare center on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 in Topeka. The Democratic governor called a Republican proposal to ban transgender athletes from female and female school sports “regressive”.

Updated at 5:15 p.m. Monday

TOPEKA – Conservative Kansas Republicans failed on Monday to overturn the Democratic governor’s veto on a proposal to ban transgender athletes in women’s and women’s sports, unable to convert successes from other states or support for Caitlyn Jenner with sufficient momentum.

The State Senate voted 26-14 to overturn Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto, leaving supporters with a single vote before the necessary two-thirds majority. Senators’ decision blocked a vote in the House.

Kansas became the second state in two weeks, after North Dakota, where a legislature with Republican supermajorities failed to override a GOP governor’s veto to such a step. Lawmakers in more than 20 states have considered such bans, and they became law in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and West Virginia after Idaho passed one last year. Florida lawmakers recently approved such a measure, and the governor of South Dakota imposed policy by executive order.

The vote in Kansas came two days after Jenner, the former Olympic decathlon champion and reality TV personality who introduced herself as a transgender woman in 2015, said she opposed transgender athletes in women’s and women’s sports as a “question of fairness”. Kansas conservatives took advantage of her comments to a TMZ reporter by saying they were trying to protect fair competition and opportunities for female athletes.

“No one can accuse him of being anti-trans or interested in causing suicides, or whatever accusation they’ve had of me for it,” said Senate Speaker Ty Masterson, a Republican from Wichita area, to reporters before the vote.

Kelly had called the proposed ban “regressive,” said it would send a message that Kansas was not a welcoming place and predicted it would hurt the state’s attempts to recruit companies. LGBTQ rights advocates have said this will increase harassment of already vulnerable children.

“We’re not going to legislate discrimination here,” said state representative Stephanie Byers, Democrat of Wichita and the state’s first transgender lawmaker. “It will be a difficult thing to fight, but we will always do it.”

Many transgender rights advocates have criticized Jenner, saying she hasn’t convinced them that she is a major asset to their cause. Byers suggested that Jenner try to gain attention for herself.

The proposed ban will likely be a problem in the 2022 governor’s race, when Kelly seeks a second term. The top two Republican candidates, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and former Gov. Jeff Colyer, said they would have signed the measure.

Kelly ran as a centrist in 2018 against polarizing conservative Kris Kobach, a former Kansas secretary of state known around the country for advocating restrictive immigration policies and strict voter identification laws. Republicans have already started trying to portray Kelly as a liberal and see her veto on the transgender athlete measure as proof of this.

“It shows her real far-left leanings,” said Senator Renee Erickson, a Republican from Wichita, former college basketball player and main sponsor of the bill. “I think if we do what it really is – is to protect these opportunities for girls – that those are Kansas values ​​and that ultimately will hurt the governor politically.”

Supporters of such proposals across the United States have generally not been able to cite local examples of the problems. The association that oversees extracurricular activities at Kansas K-12 schools says it has only been made aware of five active trans participants in extracurricular activities, and there are no known cases of a transgender athlete. having won a Kansas championship.

“After a long reputation as anti-LGBT, this state is making progress on the rights of LGBT people and advancing on the rights of transgender people,” said Tom Witt, executive director of LGBTQ rights group Equality Kansas, after tears. of relief on the vote.

Perhaps the deciding factor was the fear that sports organizations such as the NCAA would avoid scheduling tournament games in Kansas. Kansas City, Kansas, Senator David Haley, the only Democrat who hesitated, quoted this question to reporters explaining his non-vote.

Haley had previously abstained on the measure, but the Senate forced him to vote on Monday. He struggled with his decision, chopping up arguments on both sides in an extraordinary six-minute speech.

“David Haley cannot win in this discussion,” he told his colleagues.

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