In a move certain to disappoint conservatives across his state, Republican Utah Gov. Spencer Cox sided with Democrats and vowed to veto legislation that would restrict athletic competitions to participants of the same birth gender, as Breitbart reports.
Though the transgender sports ban designed to keep females from being forced to compete against men who identify as women were approved by the state legislature late last week, Cox’s veto will likely doom its implementation unless enough votes for an override can be marshaled.
The measure prohibits “a student of the male sex from competing against another school on a team designated for female students” and specifies “sex” to mean the “biological, physical condition of being male or female, determined by an individual’s genetics and anatomy at birth,” according to The Hill.
After the passage of the bill by the legislature, Cox took to Facebook to reassure transgender athletes who might have been alarmed by the development, saying, “We care deeply about Utah’s female athletes and our LGBTQ+ community. To those hurting tonight: It’s going to be OK. We’re going to help you get through this. Please reach out if you need help.”
Salt Lake City CBS affiliate KUTV reported that Cox had indicated his frustration with the manner in which the bill was passed – on the final night of the legislature’s session – and claimed there had been insufficient debate leading up to the final result.
“We never talked about it, we’ve never debated it, we never had any public input on it,” Cox reportedly said.
Republican state Sen. Dan McCay, however, disputed that contention, saying, “If this bill hasn’t been debated both in the public square, the private square, every square, every dinner table in the State of Utah, I’d be surprised.”
Cathryn Oakley, Utah legislative director and senior counsel of the Human Rights Campaign, voiced support for the promised veto, saying, “As the first governor this year pledging to veto anti-trans legislation sent to his desk for signature, Gov. Cox deserves praise for standing up to those who continue to target and attack transgender youth.”
GOP state Sen. Curt Bramble put things in rather more concrete terms, however, stating, “Boys can run faster, they can jump higher, and they can throw farther than girls in the same age bracket. To have individuals that are born male compete against naturally born females, it’s an unfair playing field,” and that is an observation with which it is difficult to disagree.