Arkansas GOP Governor Does ... Good Thing? Wait That Can't Be Right.
Last week we talked about the nationwide campaign against trans kids, and trans people in general, because that's the GOP's new issue when they're not yelling about Dr. Seuss or big bad devil songs. The Arkansas lege had passed a bill criminalizing healthcare for transgender kids, becoming the first state to do so. Specifically, HB 1570, the "Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act," bans doctors from providing gender-affirming healthcare to trans kids. It was vile.
It was on its way to Arkansas GOP Governor Asa Hutchinson's desk. And he ... vetoed it. Didn't see that one coming! But don't order him any gift baskets just yet, none of those cakes he likes.
Calling the bill "a vast government overreach," Hutchinson, a Republican, said at a news conference that the law would create "new standards of legislative interference with physicians and parents as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive matters involving young people."
Oh good! How wonderful! Governor Hutchinson saw a choice between hurting trans kids and not hurting trans kids, and he chose ... not hurting trans kids? Hooray!
The GOP-controlled Arkansas Senate passed the bill last week, and Hutchinson said he expects that the General Assembly will "likely" override his veto with a simple majority.
Because they can do that in Arkansas, with just a simple majority.
But Hutchinson just really hopes this'll make the legislature think about what it's done. No, he wasn't having the same qualms when it came to signing a bill banning trans kids from playing children's sports, or when he signed that bill allowing doctors and other healthcare professionals to refuse to treat people for very important moral conscience reasons, which is just a license to refuse LGBTQ+ people medical care.
But this one, this one is too far!
"I'm hopeful that my action will cause conservative Republican legislators to think through the issue again, and hopefully come up with a more restrained approach that allows a study of the science and ethics surrounding the issue before acting," Hutchinson said.
He did say of trans kids that "they deserve the guiding hand of their parents and of the health care professionals that their family has chosen." And that's true! They do deserve that! He also noted that in Arkansas, they already do not do gender confirmation surgeries on kids under 18.
On the other hand, he also said the current bill is "well-intended but off course." So it's not like he just hates this bill SO MUCH or anything.
NBC News and others have quotes from the ACLU and others commending Governor Hutchinson for what he's done. And yes, by vetoing this, he has indeed sent a statement. It's important to speak out, and if Hutchinson's veto helps stem the all-out assault states are performing on trans kids right now, that's a good thing.
Or maybe the lege is just going to override his veto and that will be that.
We have a sneaking suspicion Hutchinson felt safer with the bans on trans kids in sports, because everybody is doing those, but maybe the whole "being the first" state to ban life-saving healthcare for trans kids was a bit too far.
And whatever happens, religious Right wingnuts will likely scream at Hutchinson and call him a traitor for his veto, just like they recently did with South Dakota GOP Governor Kristi Noem, who recently vetoed part of a bill to disallow trans girls from playing women's sports, because she didn't like the language of it. She was of course fine with the spirit of the bill, but appeared to mostly be trying to cover her ass with the NCAA and avoid lawsuits, because she doesn't want South Dakota to lose that sweet NCAA money if the organization pulls events out of the state.
You know how bad cancel culture is these days, after all.
So it's possible Hutchinson doesn't want to personally deal with the corporate backlash, and this way if the state lege just overrides his veto, his hands are clean. Of course, he'd prefer the lege just listen to him and come up with a kinder, gentler way to screw trans kids. That's what the man said, after all, in essence!
We don't know.
But we are reminded of that time in 2015 when the religious Right's cause du jour was passing state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs), to "protect" the religious freedom of Jesus-loving businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people, for Jesus reasons. After people really figured out what all those states (including Arkansas and Mike Pence's Indiana) were doing, and after large corporations like Arkansas-based Walmart announced their loud opposition, the very same Governor Asa Hutchinson was proud to be the FIRST! to announce that he did not like the RFRA the lege had passed, and ordered them to "fix" it to make it less gay-hatey.
Could this be like that? Maybe. We'll see.
But yes, good job Asa Hutchinson for deciding to a veto a bill that literally denies live-saving healthcare to children, many pats on the back, WWJD, etc.
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