Senate Republicans in Kansas failed Monday to override Democratic governor Laura Kelly’s veto of a proposed ban on transgender individuals in girls’ and women’s athletics.
The state senate voted 26–14 to overturn Kelly’s veto, falling short by one vote of the two-thirds majority required to advance the bill.
Kansas is the second state in the past two weeks, after North Dakota, to garner insufficient support in the legislature to overturn a governor’s veto of a similar bill.
The vote in Kansas comes two days after Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympian, reality TV celebrity, and transgender woman, said she opposes transgender competitors in girls’ and women’s sports as a “question of fairness.” Jenner’s comments were used to try to bolster senate Republicans’ case against the inclusion of transgender individuals in female athletics.
“No one can accuse her of being anti-trans or interested in causing suicides, or whatever accusation they had of me for that,” senate president Ty Masterson said to reporters before the vote.
State senator Renee Erickson, the bill’s primary sponsor, said of Kelly’s rejection of the ban, “It shows her true, far-left leanings.”
“I think if we make it about what it truly is — it’s protecting those opportunities for girls — that those are Kansas values and that at the end of the day, it will hurt the governor politically,” Erickson remarked.
Critics claimed the bill would stifle business opportunities and recruitment, give Kansas a negative reputation as an unwelcoming state, and exacerbate bullying issues in the LGBTQ community. Kelly called the bill “regressive.”
“We’re not going to legislate discrimination here,” state representative Stephanie Byers said. “It’s going to be a tough thing to fight, but we’re always going to do it.”
Other opponents feared that major sports organizations such as the NCAA would disqualify Kansas from hosting tournaments or competitions if they passed such a measure. Democratic senator David Haley, who voted against the override, expressed his concerns about this potential problem to reporters.