Louisiana lawmakers override governor’s veto on gender-affirming care ban

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By Allison Allsop, LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE– Lawmakers on Tuesday overrode the governor’s veto of a bill banning gender-affirming care for minors.

That was the only veto override that made it through both the House and Senate, and lawmakers called an end to the special session late in the day.

Gov. John Bel Edwards had vetoed the gender-affirming care bill, authored by Republican Rep. Gabe Firment of Pollock. Now that more than two-thirds of the members in both chambers voted to override that veto, the bill will make it impossible for youth to receive any type of care for gender dysphoria including hormone treatment, gender reassignment surgery and puberty blocking drugs.

The new law takes effect on Jan.1, 2024.

Individuals already receiving this type of care will have one year after that to be weaned off the medications outlined in the bill.

The override passed with multiple Democrats crossing the aisle in both chambers.

Six House Democrats joined Republicans in voting to override the veto, giving the bill five more votes than needed to pass. Democratic Reps. Roy Adams of Jackson, Chad Brown of Plaquemine, Robby Carter of Amite, Mack Cormier of Belle Chasse and Travis Johnson of Vidalia voted for the override.

Rep. Dustin Miller, D-Opelousas, is one of the few legislators who works in healthcare who voted for the override.

In the Senate, the override passed 28-11–just two votes more than needed. Two Democrats, Senators Gregory Tarver of Shreveport and Katrina Jackson of Monroe, voted with Republicans for the override. One Republican, Sen. Fred Mills of Parks, voted against the override.

The bill has had a rough go through the Legislature this year. Originally killed in a Senate committee hearing by Mills, the bill was brought back on the Senate floor by a vote to recommit it to a different committee before eventually passing in both chambers.

Edwards vetoed the bill in June and issued a six-page message expressing his opposition to it.

Rep. Jason Hughes, D-New Orleans, read several pieces of this message at the podium before the vote. Hughes said that his Christian faith led him to oppose this bill. He also said that this bill takes away parental rights.

On the Senate side, Mills spoke in opposition to the override, pointing out that similar laws in other states have been declared unconstitutional.

An Arkansas law banning gender-affirming healthcare was vetoed by the Republican governor, who was overridden by the legislature. An Arkansas federal judge ruled last month that its law, which is similar to Louisiana’s, was unconstitutional.

House Republicans fell short of the 70 members needed to override vetoes of two other bills involving LGBTQ individuals.

House bills 81 and 466 fell just short of the votes needed to pass the House. HB 81 would have prohibited teachers from calling students by names other than those given on birth certificates and from using pronouns not associated with their sex assigned on their birth certificate.

The bill does include exceptions for derivatives of birth names and parental approval. However, teachers would also have been able to refuse to use names or pronouns with parental approval for religious reasons. The attempt to override the veto on this bill failed 67-29.

Four Democrats–Adams, Brown, Cormier and Rep. Pat Moore of Monroe–voted for the override, while five Republicans–Reps. Richard Nelson of Mandeville, Mary DuBuisson of Slidell, Stephanie Hilferty of Metairie, Barbara Frieberg of Baton Rouge and Tanner Magee of Houma–voted against it.

HB 466, which failed with a vote of 68-29, would prohibit teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity with students. This bill was like many of the “Don’t Say Gay” bills circulating the country.

Four Republicans–Nelson, DuBuisson, Hilferty and Frieberg–voted against the override. Four Democrats, some of whom also supported the gender affirming care ban, voted for the override: Adams, Brown, Cormier and Moore.

Two other vetoes were overridden on the House side, but the override attempts failed once they reached the Senate.

HB 125 would have prohibited foreign adversaries from purchasing agricultural land. HB 399 would have required schools to include vaccine exemption information in the packets about immunizations sent home to parents.

For both bills, the veto override efforts failed on the Senate side by three votes.