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Louisiana lawmakers override veto on ban on gender transitions for minors

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(The Center Square) — Gender transition surgeries and drugs for children are set to become illegal in Louisiana on Jan. 1 following a successful veto override on Tuesday.

Lawmakers in the Louisiana House voted 75-23 to override Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto of House Bill 648 on Tuesday, while the Senate followed shortly after with a vote of 28-11.

The bill to ban gender transition surgeries, hormones and puberty-blocking drugs for minors became the fourth in the last 50 years to overcome a gubernatorial veto, following the 2022 override of congressional redistricting legislation and two overrides during the regular session in the 1990s.

“Today was a huge win for the children of Louisiana!” HB 648 sponsor Rep. Gabe Firment, R-Pollock, posted to Facebook on Tuesday. “I’m proud of my colleagues in the state legislature for standing up to protect children of our great state. We made it clear today that our children are worth fighting for.”

With Tuesday’s vote, Louisiana joins 20 other states that have enacted similar restrictions on gender treatments and surgeries for kids, including many now facing lawsuits. Federal courts in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida have blocked similar bans on gender transitions for minors amid ongoing court battles, while Republican Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond agreed to stay enforcement of the same pending a legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Edwards, who has issued 319 vetoes since taking office in 2016, suggested HB 648 would likely face the same fate in Tuesday’s statement.

“Just two of my vetoes have been overridden,” Edwards said. “The first time I was overridden, on the Congressional district map, I said the bill was illegal and I expected the courts would throw it out. The courts have done so.

“Today, I was overridden for the second time, on my veto of a bill that needlessly harms a very small population of vulnerable children, their families, and their health care professionals,” he said. “I expect the courts to throw out this unconstitutional bill, as well.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who helped push for HB 648, applauded the override vote.

“Louisiana joins all of its neighboring states in protecting children. We have sent a signal to America that Louisiana intends to strengthen the family unit and to protect children from harmful gender reassignment surgeries,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “By overriding the governor’s veto of Representative Gabe Firment’s bill, we send a clear signal that woke liberal agendas that are destructive to children will not be tolerated in Louisiana.”

Republican Sen. Sharon Hewitt, Landry’s competition for governor, posted to Twitter that she was “proud to support HB 648 to protect children in Louisiana from surgical and chemical sex changes.”

Lawmakers took votes on several other bills during the one day veto session, but none met the requisite two-thirds threshold in both chambers. Lawmakers adjourned the override session Tuesday.

The failed overrides included:

HB 81 to require parental permission for students to change names or use preferred pronouns;HB 125 to ban foreign adversaries from owning agricultural land;HB 166 to require additional information and analysis of the executive budget;HB 182 to prohibit vaccine discrimination in employment and schools;HB 188 relative to denial of parole for dangerous offenders;HB 309 regarding standards for fortifying homes;HB 399 requiring certain communications about school immunizations and exemptions;HB 415 to ban central bank digital currency;HB 466 to ban discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools;HB 646 to enhance the annual canvass of registered voters; andHB 658 to increase healthcare price transparency.

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