Trans Sports Give Utah Republicans a Ticket to Override

Daniel Thatcher thinks he’s thrown away his political career. The 45-year-old Wyoming senator was one of a handful of Republican lawmakers — two in the Senate, two in the House — to support Governor Spencer Cox’s veto of a student ban bill. transgender to participate in women’s sports. Of the four GOP traitors, Thatcher was the only lawmaker to run for re-election. While campaigning for re-nomination from “a neighborhood that has become very red after the recent redistricting,” he heard a voter after a voter told him he lost their support for being soft on the transgender ban.

Thatcher, a devout Mormon, said he acted on his faith: “I questioned God. He gave me peace of mind doing the right thing.”

The bill, HB 11, was passed on March 4 with a Republican majority in both the House and Senate. On March 22, Mr. Cox vetoed the bill. Explaining his veto in a passionate public letter, Mr Cox found fault with the “bad process” by which the bill was put to a vote, saying there was not enough time for debate. about its content and get “votes from voters”. His objections are also very substantive, making it clear that he has rejected a transgender ban in principle. “Rarely is so much fear and anger directed toward such a few,” he wrote.

Mr Cox’s move angered Republican lawmakers, who voted on March 25 to override his veto. This is a vote where Mr Thatcher sided with the governor. “Spencer Cox was a good man who was put in a bad position,” he told me.

Representative Kera Birkeland, sponsor of HB 11, was unimpressed with the governor’s veto. “I don’t think he’s heard the worries and disappointments from the 35,000 girls competing in athletics in our state.” Her convictions are as passionate as the governor’s.

“I wrote and sponsored the bill that preserves the integrity of women’s sports,” she said. “As a mother of student athletes and a high school coach, it’s clear to me that there’s an unfair advantage when someone born male later plays against girls.” The legislation she fights for is “a practical, conventional approach that most of our states support.” As an agent, she said, “I want to uphold the values ​​of the people I represent. The crossing has been a huge success for the women. ”

Birkeland is certain that this issue will weigh heavily on the minds of Utah voters midterm — and in 2024, when the governor is expected to run for re-election. “People will remember who sided with the women.”

Her views resonate with Mike Schultz, the House majority leader. “I couldn’t go into a grocery store,” he said, “without my mom telling me how important the bill is.” Five days before the governor’s veto – which Mr. Cox made clear was coming – Lia Thomas became the first transgender swimmer to win a Division I championship when she won the event. women’s 500 yards freestyle. “Parents of the state are very upset, and really concerned that Governor Cox will veto the law,” Mr. Schultz said. He asked the governor to reconsider his veto – but to no avail. “I am very disappointed,” he told me.

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, a gender rights group, has a different view. “Goverment. Cox has given legislators across the country a swath of political courage,” he said in an email. “He has empathy and compassion for vulnerable children,” and is “really frustrated” with how HB 11 has been “crammed into the weak hours of the legislative session.”

This last point — the allegation of a procedural error in the passage of the law — was refuted by Brad Wilson, the Utah House speaker. “None of the elements of the bill that passed,” he said, “are new points of discussion.” “There is no element of HB 11 that has not been thoroughly and comprehensively discussed, and multiplied over the past few years,” he asserts. Regarding the content of the bill, he said that “there is a story that it is targeting a certain segment of the population. But it’s not against anyone, it’s for something — preserving girls’ sports and making sure they’re done fairly. ”

The governor’s office said he did not have time for a phone interview or zoom in for this article because he was busy preparing for a trade mission. A spokesman said he would also not be able to answer some brief questions via email. Todd Weiler, another Republican senator who supported the governor’s veto, tried to convince him to answer my questions. He failed. “I tried,” Mr. Weiler said in an email. “It won’t happen. I think he wants to move on.”

For the record, Senator Thatcher’s political career isn’t over yet. On April 23, at the Utah Republican Convention, he was dropped from his district with 60% of the vote, eliminating the need for a tough Republican primary. , in which he had to defend his position on HB 11 during a hasty call. , made while taking his young son to the doctor, he said, “I really thought I was going to lose.”

Mr. Varadarajan, a Journal contributor, is a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute and at the Classical Liberal Institute of New York University Law School.

Wonder Land (September 2, 22): With athletes fighting agendas having woken up in basketball, swimming and soccer, the PC project could be running out of steam. Image: AP / AFP / Getty Images Synthesis: Mark Kelly

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