Calling the legislation discriminatory and a "solution in search of a problem that does not exist in Louisiana," Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards on Tuesday vetoed Senate Bill 156, which would have barred transgender girls and women from participating on sports teams that match their gender identity.
As reported by The Advocate of Baton Rouge, the measure passed the Senate 29-6 and the House 78-19 — margins wide enough to override a governor's veto. However, the Legislature has never in its history called itself back to Baton Rouge for a special veto override session.
House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, a Gonzales Republican, said in a statement Tuesday that he supports calling a special session to override Edwards' veto. To occur, a majority of members of both chambers would have to agree to return.
Sponsored by Beth Mizell (R-Franklinton), the so-called "Fairness in Women's Sports Act" would have required athletic teams or sporting events for women at public institutions be composed only of "biological females," or those who presumably were listed as female on their birth certificates. It mirrored proposals introduced by Republican lawmakers across the country.
Related: DOE: Transgender Athletes Protected Under Title IX
Edwards, a Democrat, said the legislation "would make life more difficult for transgender children, who are some of the most vulnerable Louisianans when it comes to mental health."
"We should be looking for more ways to unite rather than divide our citizens," Edwards added, according to The Advocate.
Mizell said the legislation was aimed at maintaining a fair playing field in women's sports, arguing that transgender girls are born bigger and faster, and therefore have an unfair advantage in competition.
When repeatedly pressed by colleagues for an example in which transgender participation in sports had caused a problem in Louisiana, Mizell instead called the measure proactive.
"Even the author of the bill acknowledged throughout the legislative session that there wasn’t a single case where this was an issue," the Edwards wrote in his veto message.