- The Washington Times
Wednesday, July 21, 2021

NEW ORLEANS — Republicans fell two votes short Wednesday of overriding a gubernatorial veto of a bill that would have prohibited transgender athletes from playing on teams that corresponded with their gender identity.

Voting the day after the Republican majority in the Senate overrode the veto of Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, the GOP could muster just 68 votes in the House. The override session is the first called by the Legislature since Louisiana adopted its current constitution in 1974.

Republican leaders had done their best to tamp down partisan enthusiasm when the session began Monday. They warned that although both the transgender athlete ban and a law that would have permitted adults to carry concealed weapons had passed both legislative chambers with veto-proof majorities, it was unclear if everyone would vote the same way a second time.

A group of 100 liberal religious figures wrote an open letter Wednesday to legislators urging them to allow Mr. Edwards’ veto to stand. Mr. Edwards and his supporters said the law would hurt Louisiana in attracting major sports events, in particular NCAA basketball and baseball tournaments.

The vote came on the same day a federal judge issued an injunction against an Arkansas law that would have prohibited physicians from assigning puberty-blocking drugs, sexual reassignment surgeries and other procedures associated with transitioning sexes. 

U.S. District Judge Jay Moody, an Obama appointee, said enforcing the law could “cause irreparable harm” to people already involved in transgender medical procedures.

With the Republican failure Wednesday, the highly anticipated veto override session turned into a major disappointment for the GOP and a big victory for Mr. Edwards, who had worked hard to block the session and effectively mobilized supporters to back his vetoes. In addition to the clergy letter Wednesday, Mr. Edwards’ team assembled some two dozen state and local law officers to hold a Baton Rouge press conference urging support for his veto of the concealed-carry measure.

Mr. Edwards is the lone Democrat holding the chief executive office in the Deep South, and has angered liberals by passing some abortion restrictions. But his veto of the concealed carry law cuts against the recent grain in many states, including Louisiana’s neighbors, that have passed similar legislation in the past year.

State GOP Chairman Louis Gurvich said Republicans “are profoundly disappointed and deeply angered” by Wednesday’s vote, and he lashed out at the lone GOP lawmaker to vote against an override, Joe Stagni of Kenner, a New Orleans suburb.
“We would like to point out to the voters that 67 of 68 House Republicans voted for the override of the veto of the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act today,” Mr. Gurvich statement said. “Additionally, 26 of 27 Senate Republicans successfully voted to override the governor’s veto of the same bill.”
Mr. Guvich vowed “consequences” both for Mr. Stagni, who is already facing a possible recall, and he urged voters to remember the three state senators who voted for the bill initially but failed to hold that position in the override session, as well as one Republican senator who announced he would skip the session for health reasons. 

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.