Utah Republican Governor Spencer Cox vetoed a bill on Tuesday aimed at protecting girls from having to compete against biological males in girls’ sports.
After the state legislature passed the legislation, Cox “quickly denounced the bill after it passed,” The New York Times reported. “He had met with lawmakers weeks earlier and expressed his support for creating a commission of experts who would determine eligibility in individual cases.”
However, Cox’s move to kill the bill will be short-lived as the state legislature will now meet to override the governor’s veto.
President J. Stuart Adams and Speaker Brad Wilson will call a veto override session this Friday as they say that at least two-thirds of the members of each chamber are in favor of reconvening for a veto override session.
“We must work to preserve the integrity of women’s sports and ensure it remains fair and safe for all,” said President Adams. “While Gov. Cox and I disagree on this bill, I respect the legislative process. We have been listening to our constituents, talking with experts, and we feel it’s important to make decisions now that protect athletes and ensure women are not edged out of their sport. Creating a safe and fair environment for athletes takes work. We care deeply for all students, but we can not ignore the scientific facts that biological boys are built differently than girls. Doing nothing is taking a step backward for women. Finding a solution to this complicated issue is necessary to maintain fair competition now and in the future.”
“Governor Cox made his intention to veto the bill clear from the day it was passed so his action today was expected,” said Speaker Wilson. “Members of the Legislature, including the sponsor, have worked tirelessly for more than a year to find the best way to approach a complex issue and I anticipate that we will have sufficient votes to override the veto. Ultimately, the Legislature recognizes the value of girls athletics and our members want to ensure girls have the level playing field to compete that was created by Title IX.”
We must work to preserve the integrity of women's sports. Finding a solution to this complicated issue is necessary to maintain fair competition now and in the future. #utpol pic.twitter.com/YnUbGMD08J
— President J. Stuart Adams (@JStuartAdams) March 22, 2022
Cox released a statement explaining his reasons for vetoing the bill, saying it was “substantially changed in the final hours of the legislative session.”
Cox stated that signing the bill into law could cause Utah’s private high school athletic association to go bankrupt from inevitable lawsuits that would follow the law going into effect. The governor also wanted a compromise with LGBTQ groups that would allow some transgender youth to compete in sports, a compromise that he said “fell apart” in the final hours of the session. Cox also claimed the late changes meant no public opinion could be heard on the new language and accused legislators of using a “poor process.”
Finally, he said that one of the reasons that he decided to vote against the bill was that he was “not an expert on transgenderism” and “when in doubt however, I always try to err on the side of kindness, mercy and compassion.”
Cox said that only four transgender kids are playing sports in the state and that only one of them is playing in girls’ sports.
“That’s what all of this is about. Four kids who aren’t dominating or winning trophies or taking scholarships,” he said. “Four kids who are just trying to find some friends and feel like they are a part of something. Four kids trying to get through each day.”