TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Conservative Republicans in Kansas on Monday failed to overturn the Democratic governor’s veto on a proposed ban on transgender athletes in girls’ and women’s sports, unable to convert successes in other states or Caitlyn Jenner’s support for enough momentum.
The State Senate voted 26-14 to override Government Laura Kelly’s veto, leaving supporters a single vote under the required two-thirds majority. The Senator’s decision blocked a vote in Parliament.
Kansas became the second state within two weeks of North Dakota, where a Republican super-majority legislature failed to override a GOP governor̵
The vote in Kansas came two days after Jenner, the former Olympic champion in tikamp and reality TV character who came out as a transgender woman in 2015, said she was against transsexual athletes in girls and women’s sports as a “matter of justice.” Conservatives from Kansas seized their comments on a TMZ reporter in arguments that they were trying to protect fair competition and opportunities for female athletes.
“No one can accuse her of being anti-trans or interested in causing suicide, or any accusation they have made about me for it,” Senate President Ty Masterson, a Republican in the Wichita area, told 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 activists said it would increase bullying of already vulnerable children.
“We will not legislate discrimination here,” said State Representative Stephanie Byers, a Wichita Democrat and the state’s first transgender lawmaker. “It’s going to be hard to fight, but we always do.”
Many transgender rights advocates have criticized Jenner, saying she has not convinced them that she is an important asset to their case. Byers suggested that Jenner try to get attention for himself.
The proposed ban is likely to be a problem in the governor’s race in 2022, when Kelly seeks another term. The two top Republican candidates, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and former Gov. Jeff Colyer, have said they would have signed the measure.
Kelly ran as a centrist in 2018 against the polarizing conservative Kris Kobach, a former secretary of state in Kansas, nationally known for advocating a restrictive immigration policy and harsh voter identification laws. Republicans have already begun trying to paint Kelly as a liberal and see her veto against the measure against transgender athletes as proof of that.
“It shows her true, left-leaning leaning,” said State Senator Renee Erickson, a Wichita Republican, a former college basketball player and the bill’s main sponsor. “I think if we do what it really is – it protects the opportunities of these girls – that it’s Kansas values and that it will ultimately hurt the governor politically.”
Supporters of such proposals across the United States have generally not been able to cite local examples of problems. The association, which oversees recreational activities in Kansas’ K-12 schools, says only five active transgender participants in out-of-school activities have been notified, and no case of a transsexual athlete has been known to have won one. Kansas Championship.
“After a long reputation for being anti-LGBT, this state is making progress with the rights of LGBT people, and it is making progress with the rights of transgender people,” said Tom Witt, CEO of the LGBTQ rights group Equality Kansas, after tears of relief over the vote.
The deciding factor may have been a concern that sports bodies like the NCAA would avoid planning tournament games in Kansas. Kansas City, Kansas, Senator David Haley, the only Democrat who wavered, quoted the issue to reporters to explain his no vote.
Haley previously abstained, but the Senate forced him to vote Monday. He struggled with his decision and hashed over both sides’ arguments in an extraordinary six-minute speech.
“David Haley cannot win in this discussion,” he told his colleagues.
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