Indiana’s GOP Governor Vetoes Ban on Trans Girls in Sports

(INDIANAPOLIS) — Indiana’s governor on Monday vetoed a bill banning transgender females from participating in girls school sports.

Opponents of the transgender sports bill argued it was a bigoted response to a problem that doesn’t exist, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana saying it planned a lawsuit against what it called “hateful legislation.”

Republican bill sponsors stated that the legislation was required to safeguard the integrity of women’s sports and provide opportunities for girls to receive college athletic scholarship. But, the sponsoring Republican Republican pointed out there were no cases in which girls had been outperformed or outperformed.

Republican Governor. Eric Holcomb signaled support for the bill last month but said in his veto letter that the legislation “falls short” of providing a consistent statewide policy for what he called “fairness in K-12 sports.”

Holcomb also signed a bill eliminating the state’s permit requirement to carry handguns in public.

Holcomb’s decisions come after both measures faced intense opposition before being approved by the GOP-dominated legislature that embraced what have become a pair of conservative causes across the country.

While legislators discussed both issues, the governor was not present and took his decision just prior to his Tuesday deadline.

Holcomb also pointed out the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s policy that covers transgender students who want to play the same sports as their gender identity. It has stated it has not had any transgender girls request to be on a girls’ team.

“The presumption of the policy laid out in HEA 1041 is that there is an existing problem in K-12 sports in Indiana that requires further state government intervention,” Holcomb said in his letter. “It implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met. After thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the effort overall.”

Indiana lawmakers can override the governor’s veto with simple majorities in both the House and Senate. Legislative leaders plan a one-day meeting to discuss the possibility of a veto override vote on May 24.

Indiana law will prohibit K-12 students, who are born male and identify as female, to participate in sports or teams that are designated for women or girls. But it wouldn’t prevent students who identify as female or transgender men from playing on men’s sports teams.

Eleven other Republican-led states have adopted such laws that political observers describe as a classic “wedge issue” to motivate conservative supporters after the governors in Iowa and South Dakota signed their bans in recent weeks.

Holcomb’s veto comes seven years after Indiana faced a national uproar over a religious objections law signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence, whose opponents claimed could be used for discrimination against lesbians and gays. Rapid revisions were made by the Republican-dominated Legislature to block its use in legal defense against refusing services. They also prevented it from overriding any local ordinances that provide LGBT protections.

Democrats argued Republican lawmakers were following a national conservative “culture war” with the transgender girls sports ban.

“Signing House Bill 1041 into law would have put the lives of our children in jeopardy,” state Democratic Party Chairman Mike Schmuhl said. “However, this unnecessary debate has set a tone with kids that being transgender means something is wrong with them.”

In signing the handgun permit requirement repeal, Holcomb went against the vocal opposition of his state police superintendent to the further loosening of the state’s lenient firearms laws.

The permit repeal, called “constitutional carry” by gun-rights supporters in reference to the Second Amendment, was criticized by major law enforcement groups who argued eliminating the permit system would endanger officers by stripping them of a screening tool for quickly identifying dangerous people who shouldn’t have guns.

At least 21 other states already allow residents to carry handguns without permit — and Ohio’s Republican governor signed a similar bill last week.

Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter joined leaders of the state’s Fraternal Order of Police, police chiefs association and county prosecutors association in speaking out against the change.

Carter, dressed in his state police uniform stood behind the Senate chamber during the debate. He said after the vote that approval of the measure “does not support law enforcement — period.”

Holcomb said in a statement that the permit repeal bill “entrusts Hoosiers who can lawfully carry a handgun to responsibly do so within our state.”

“It’s important to note that if a person is prohibited, under federal or state laws, from possessing a firearm before this law goes into effect, that person will still be prohibited,” Holcomb said.

A firearms law that will go into effect on July 1 will permit anyone 18 years or older to possess a handgun. This is except in cases where they have been convicted of a crime, are under a restraining or mental health order, or have been diagnosed with a serious mental disorder. The permit requirement, according to supporters, is designed to undermine Second Amendment protections. It requires law-abiding citizens undergo background and police fingerprinting.

Carter, the former elected Republican sheriff in central Indiana’s Hamilton County who was first appointed state police superintendent by Pence in 2013, said in a statement he would “work with law enforcement leaders across our state to make necessary changes to firearms enforcement as well as identifying the best way to identify individuals who are not allowed to carry a firearm as defined by Indiana statute.”

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