Louisiana Legislators Fail to Overide Veto of Bill Banning Transgender Athletes from Women’s Sports

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Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards in 2016. (Jonathan Bachman/Reuters)

The Louisiana state legislature failed to garner enough votes to override the Democratic governor John Bel Edwards’ veto of a bill that would prohibit transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports.

The Republican-controlled Louisiana House secured 68 votes, with 30 lawmakers voting against, falling two short of the 70 needed to overturn the veto and enact the legislation. Republicans only hold 68 out of 105 seats in the House chamber, so Democratic votes would have been needed to meet the benchmark, according to The Advocate.

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The Louisiana Senate voted Tuesday to override the bill, with Republicans gaining the minimum necessary 26 votes. However, a two-thirds vote is required in both chambers to override a veto. A pending permit-less concealed-carry gun bill in the state also did not obtain sufficient support to reverse Edwards’s veto.

Republican state representative Laurie Schlegel defended the bill against criticisms from the opposing party saying, “Respecting biological differences is not discrimination.”

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Democratic state representative Royce Duplessis claimed that the bill could damage the state’s business prospects and would have “dire economic consequences,” pointing to the NCAA and other companies’ pledges to divest from states that pass bills they deem discriminatory.

Louisiana is one of a collection of Republican-dominated states that have attempted to or succeeded in passing legislation barring biological males from competing in sports specifically designated for females. A few of those states have faced the specter of legal and economic challenges posed by organizations like the NCAA, which have threatened to withdraw business, and subsequently jobs, over the transgender bills.

Republican governor Kristi Noem, who vetoed South Dakota’s version of a transgender sports bill, explained the need for a Republican-state coalition strong enough to confront the NCAA and resist its corporate bullying tactics as a long-game strategy to protect fairness in women’s sports.

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