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Kentucky Legislature easily overrides Gov. Beshear’s veto of gender-affirming care ban bill

Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, speaks on the floor of the Senate at the Kentucky state Capitol on Feb. 16, 2023, in Frankfort, Kentucky. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS)  (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS)
By Tessa Duvall Lexington Herald-Leader

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Republican-dominated Kentucky General Assembly acted swiftly Wednesday to override Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of the controversial Senate Bill 150, which bans gender-affirming care for trans youth.

The override began Wednesday in the Senate, the chamber of origin, with a 29-8 vote. Just one Republican voted to oppose overriding the veto.

The House followed quickly behind, overriding the veto 76-23. Four Republicans voted to oppose the measure, and one Democrat voted for it.

Throughout the override votes, anti-SB 150 protesters who flocked to the Capitol to denounce the bill, could be heard in the Senate chamber and the Kentucky State Police forcibly removed many of from the House gallery.

In addition to banning puberty-blockers, hormones and surgeries for kids under 18, Senate Bill 150 would also ban lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation, prevent trans students from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, and stop school districts from requiring teachers to use a student’s pronouns if they don’t align with their sex assigned at birth.

The bill has been called the most “extreme” and “worst” anti-LGBTQ piece of legislation in the country by pro-LGBTQ rights groups including, the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU of Kentucky and the Trevor Project. Many of those same organizations were quick to praise Beshear’s veto.

“This bill is nothing but a desperate and cruel effort by extremist politicians in Kentucky to stigmatize, marginalize and erase the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender youth,” Cathryn Oakley, HRC’s State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel, said in a statement.

“These politicians have no place inserting themselves in conversations between doctors, parents, and transgender youth about gender affirming care; they have no place inside a middle school bathroom stall either. This bill would terrorize transgender youth in schools, in doctor’s offices, and even could put them in danger at home.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Max Wise, a Campbellsville Republican and lieutenant governor running mate of GOP gubernatorial candidate Kelly Craft, a former ambassador to Canada and the United Nations.

In his veto message Friday, Beshear cited statistics on youth mental health and suicide, including that nearly 1 in 5 trans or nonbinary youth have attempted suicide, according to the Trevor Project.

“Improving access to gender-affirming care is an important means of improving health outcomes for the transgender population,” Beshear wrote. “Senate Bill 150 will cause an increase in suicide among Kentucky’s youth.”

Republicans have denounced Beshear’s veto, saying it shows he’s out of touch with Kentuckians and aligned with the far-left. Progressive groups, like the pro-LGBTQ rights organization the Fairness Campaign, have praised the governor’s decision, saying he made the right decision.