Governor Vetoes Bipartisan Bill Protecting Women’s Sports
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has condemned his state's Republican-sponsored voter ID law and constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. But in his position he must defend the state against lawsuits on both issues.
Takaaki Iwabu/Raleigh News & Observer/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper vetoed a bipartisan bill that would protect women’s sports on Wednesday.

HB 574, which is titled the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” and passed with bipartisan supermajorities, would prohibit men from playing in women’s sports in middle schools, high schools, and universities.

“We don’t need politicians inflaming their political culture wars by making broad, uninformed decisions about an extremely small number of vulnerable children that are already handled by a robust system that relies on parents, schools and sports organizations,” the Democratic governor stated. “Republican governors in other states have vetoed similar bills because they hurt their states’ reputation and economy and because they are neither fair nor needed.”

The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act was passed with the support of two Democrats in the state legislature — Rep. Michael Wray in the House, and Sen. Val Applewhite in the Senate. If Cooper’s veto is overridden, the bill would apply to all public schools and any private school that competes against public schools.

Applewhite said that her vote was “a tough decision to make” and was based on conversations with coaches and other constituents in her district. One umpire told the Democrat that changes in strength levels between boys and girls can start as soon as seven years old.

“I even reached out to some members of the LGBTQ community who said they understood it as well,” the state senator told The News & Observer. “I think it’s a misnomer to think that everyone in that community feels the same way, they’re not one groupthink.”

According to the Fayetteville Observer, Applewhite received “bad threats” after her vote. When approached by The News & Observer, Wray declined to comment on why he supported the bill.

Cooper also vetoed SB 49, named the “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” and HB 808, which would ban sex change treatments for minors. Unlike the women’s sports bill, these two bills passed with no Democratic support.


Cooper’s vetoes of HB 574 and HB 808 are likely to be overridden by the North Carolina General Assembly, since the GOP holds supermajorities in both houses, thanks in part to Rep. Tricia Cotham, who switched parties from Democrat to Republican in April and voted for all three bills.

However, the path forward for the Parents’ Bill of Rights is less certain, since one Republican, Rep. Hugh Blackwell, voted against the bill, leaving Republicans one vote short of overriding the governor’s veto on that bill.

Cooper is not the only Democratic governor to veto bipartisan bills surrounding protecting womens’ sports, banning sex change treatments for minors, and strengthening parental rights in education.

Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana vetoed three similar bills Friday, all of which saw multiple Democrats join Republicans to support them in the state legislature. In a press conference, Edwards compared the bills’ supporters to segregationists during the Civil Rights Movement. 

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