Republican lawmakers in Kentucky on Wednesday swept aside the Democratic governor’s veto of a bill regulating some of the most personal aspects of life for transgender young people—from banning access to gender-affirming health care to restricting the bathrooms they can use. The votes to override Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto were lopsided in both legislative chambers—where the GOP wields supermajorities—and came on the next-to-last day of this year’s legislative session. The Senate voted 29-8 to override Beshear’s veto. A short time later, the House completed the override on a vote of 76-23, the AP reports.
As emotions surged, some people protesting the bill from the House gallery were removed and arrested after their prolonged chanting rang out in the chamber. The protesters, their hands bound, chanted “there’s more of us not here” as they waited to be taken away from the Capitol. Nineteen people were arrested and charged with third-degree criminal trespassing after the sergeant of arms requested assistance in restoring order, Kentucky State Police said. Officers gave each person “the option to leave without any enforcement action or be placed under arrest,” said Capt. Paul Blanton, a state police spokesperson. The bill’s opponents framed the issue as a civil-rights fight. Democratic Rep. Sarah Stalker said: “Kentucky will be on the wrong side of history” by enacting the measure.
The debate about the transgender bill will likely spill over into this year’s gubernatorial campaign, with Beshear's veto drawing GOP condemnation as he seeks reelection to a second term. A legal fight also is brewing. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky reaffirmed that it intends to “take this fight to the courts” to try to preserve access to health care options for young transgender people. The legislation in Kentucky is part of a national movement, with state lawmakers approving extensive measures that restrict the rights of LGBTQ+ people this year. At least 11 states have now enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming care for minors: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah, South Dakota and West Virginia. Nearly two dozen states are considering bills this year to restrict or ban care.
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