Legislature Begins Overriding 'Political Culture Wars' Vetoes

During transgender care debate, lawmaker whose grandchild could be affected asks GOP to 'just stop it'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 5, 2023 5:03 PM CDT
Updated Aug 16, 2023 6:05 PM CDT
NC Governor Vetoes 3 LGBTQ+ Restrictions
North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper affixes his veto stamp to a bill banning nearly all abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy at a public rally, May 13, 2023, in Raleigh, NC.   (AP Photo/Hannah Schoenbaum, File)
UPDATE Aug 16, 2023 6:05 PM CDT

Both houses of North Carolina's legislature voted Wednesday to override Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of a bill restricting LGBTQ+ instruction. The new law takes effect immediately, the AP reports. The Senate vote was 27-18 for the override, with the House voting 72-47 minutes later. Also Wednesday, the Republican-controlled House voted to override the Democratic governor's veto of legislation prohibiting gender-affirming treatments for transgender minors; those young people will lose access to that care if the Senate follows suit. And the House voted to override Cooper's veto of a bill barring transgender girls from girls sports teams from middle and high school through college. Democratic state Rep. John Autry, who has a transgender grandchild, choked up during debate on the gender-affirming care bill. "Just stop it," Autry implored his GOP colleagues.

Jul 5, 2023 5:03 PM CDT

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed Wednesday a trio of bills aimed at LGBTQ+ youth that would ban gender-affirming health care for minors, restrict transgender participation in school sports, and limit classroom instruction about gender identity and sexuality. While LGBTQ+ rights advocates say the Democratic governor's attempt to block the bills demonstrates his support amid what they view as unrelenting attacks from the General Assembly, his veto stamp carries little weight now that Republicans hold narrow veto-proof majorities in both chambers. His vetoes are not expected to survive override attempts, which could happen as soon as next week when lawmakers return from their Fourth of July break, the AP reports.

Cooper denounced the bills as "a triple threat of political culture wars" that he said would interfere with the ability of doctors and parents to care for vulnerable children whose lives have been thrust into the political spotlight and upended by legislation in dozens of Republican-led states. Before this year, North Carolina had largely refrained from passing LGBTQ+ regulations after its 2016 "bathroom bill"—which restricted transgender access to public restrooms and banned cities from enacting new anti-discrimination ordinances—cost the state millions in lost business before it was rolled back in 2017 and settled in federal court in 2019. These policies, Cooper warned, could damage the state's reputation and economy in a similar way.

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One of the three vetoed bills would bar North Carolina medical professionals from providing hormone therapy, puberty-blocking drugs and surgical gender-transition procedures to anyone under 18, with limited medical exceptions. Young people who begin treatment before Aug. 1—when the law would take effect—could continue receiving treatment if their doctors deem it medically necessary and their parents consent. If the bill becomes law, opponents have already vowed to challenge it in court. At least 20 states have now enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for trans minors, and most face lawsuits. (In May, North Carolina Republicans overrode Cooper's veto of a bill banning abortions after 12 weeks.)

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