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Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards Vetoes Three Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards Vetoes Three Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a moderate Democrat, vetoed a gender-affirming care ban, a "don't say LGBTQ+" bill, and a pronoun restriction bill.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a moderate Democrat, has vetoed three anti-LGBTQ+ bills.

Late last week, Edwards vetoed House Bill 648, a ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth; HB 466, a “don’t say LGBTQ+” bill; and HB 81, a pronoun restriction bill. The legislature’s Republican supermajority, however, could override his vetoes.

The gender-affirming care bill would have banned puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgeries for the purpose of gender transition for minors. Health care workers who violated the law would be subject to discipline by licensing boards and could be sued.

In a veto letter sent Thursday to House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Senate President Patrick Cortez, Edwards called the bill cruel and unnecessary. It “denies healthcare to a very small, unique, and vulnerable group of children,” he wrote. Treatment with puberty blockers and hormones is “necessary” and “lifesaving,” he said. And no genital surgeries are being performed on young people in Louisiana, he noted.

“I believe that there is no legitimate state interest and no rational basis that justifies harming this very small population of children, their families, or the healthcare professionals who care for them or for the cruel and extreme consequences imposed on children through the overt denial of healthcare under this bill,” he added. He pointed out that courts in several states have blocked or overturned similar legislation.

The ”don’t say LGBTQ+” bill would have barred teachers in public schools “from discussing LGBTQ+ issues or people in the classroom and during any extracurricular academic, athletic, or social activities,” the Human Rights Campaign reports. In Edwards’s veto letter, he remarked that a teacher would be violating the law by even mentioning a same-sex spouse. The legislation also “unfairly places vulnerable children at the front lines of a vicious culture way,” he said.

The pronoun bill would have allowed teachers to ignore a student’s chosen name or pronouns and to out trans students to their parents. The legislation “is rooted in discrimination,” Edwards wrote in his veto letter.

Edwards has generally been an LGBTQ+ ally, although this year he allowed an anti-trans sports bill to become law without his signature because, he said, he knew the Republican-controlled legislature would override a veto. He is in his second term as governor and will leave office early next year due to term limits.

The HRC praised his vetoes. “We sincerely thank Gov. Bel Edwards for rejecting these shameful, mean-spirited bills targeting LGBTQ+ youth,” said a statement from HRC Legislative Counsel Courtnay Avant. “These bills are nothing but a desperate and cruel effort by extremist politicians in Louisiana to stigmatize, marginalize and erase the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender youth. In contrast, Gov. Bel Edwards heard the voices of transgender kids, their families, teachers, and medical experts and chose to treat transgender children with dignity and respect. We strongly urge the Louisiana legislature to uphold the governor’s veto and stop these discriminatory attacks on vulnerable children.”

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