- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers vetoed legislation barring biological males from competing in female scholastic sports, saying he refused to align with states passing “radical policies targeting LGBTQ individuals.”

The veto came as no surprise. The Democratic governor had repeatedly vowed to nix the measure, Assembly Bill 377, even before it had been formally approved by the state legislature’s Republican majority.

“This type of legislation, and the harmful rhetoric beget by pursuing it, harms LGBTQ Wisconsinites’ and kids’ mental health, emboldens anti-LGBTQ harassment, bullying, and violence, and threatens the safety and dignity of LGBTQ Wisconsinites, especially our LGBTQ kids,” Mr. Evers said in his Tuesday veto message.

The bill passed the House and Senate with no Democratic votes. Republicans control both houses of the legislature, but lack the two-thirds majorities in both houses needed to override Mr. Evers’ veto.

Dubbed the Save Women’s Sports Act, the bill would have designated school sports teams as male, female or coed, based on the sex of student-athletes as reflected on their birth certificates.

Twenty-four states have passed similar measures aimed at barring male-born competitors from female sports, but Mr. Evers called such legislation “radical.”

“States across this country may give way to radical policies targeting LGBTQ individuals and families and threatening LGBTQ folks’ everyday lives and their ability to be safe, valued, supported, and welcome being who they are,” Mr. Evers said. “As long as I am the governor of this great state, Wisconsin will not be among them.”

Rep. Barbara Dittrich, the measure’s Republican sponsor, blasted the veto as “disgusting” and ripped the governor’s position as “misogynistic and hateful towards actual females.”

“While he and his ilk continue to gaslight our citizens that this legislation was about hate and exclusion, he ignores the fact that the legislation provides categories for every Wisconsin student while respecting and protecting the safety and merit of our state’s biological girls,” Ms. Dittrich said.

 She noted that World Athletics, the global track-and-field authority, banned last year males who have undergone puberty from competing in elite women’s contests regardless of gender identity, as did UCI, the world cycling governing body, over concerns about fairness and safety.

A Marquette University Law School poll conducted in May found that 71% of U.S. adults supported having athletes compete on the teams aligning with their biological sex at birth.

Terry Schilling, president of the American Principles Project, called the veto “an especially cowardly surrender to the extremist ideologues who continue to deny biological reality.”

“Soon, far-left Democrats will have to face the political consequences of their radicalism, and APP intends to make sure Wisconsin families are fully informed on these issues heading into this fall’s election,” Mr. Schilling said.

A Biden administration proposal currently undergoing the rulemaking process would prohibit blanket bans on male-born athletes in female scholastic sports.

That proposed rule, along with a companion measure extending Title IX protections to transgender students, is unlikely to be finalized before the November election.

Mr. Evers, who was reelected in 2022, said he would veto “any bill that makes Wisconsin a less safe, less inclusive, and less welcoming place for LGBTQ people and kids.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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