GOP lawmakers hit with 'gut punch' as red state's Dem governor ekes out win in transgender bill battle

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Kansas Republicans failed Monday evening to override Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of a bill that would have banned transgender surgical procedures for children. 

Just a few hours after the Senate voted 27-13 to override the veto, the GOP-supermajority in the state House came up two votes shy to solidify its reversal. Two Republicans dissented in the final tally, which was 82-43.

“I’m extremely disappointed,” state Sen. Mike Thompson told Fox News Digital on Tuesday morning. “We’ve tried now three times to get a bill to protect these kids, so that they they are not guided into making a decision that changes their lives permanently.”

“The House has been a reliable partner in this up until now, so I don’t know what was going through the minds of those two representatives who caved in yesterday, but it was another gut punch for us, unfortunately,” he said.

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Kelly, who vetoed the bill earlier this month, said in a statement Monday that she was “glad that bipartisan members of the legislature have stood firm in saying that divisive bills like House Substitute for Senate Bill 233 have no place in Kansas.”

“The legislature’s decision to sustain my veto is a win for parental rights, Kansas families, and families looking to call our state home,” she said.

The ban would have prevented state employees from encouraging “social transitioning,” such as the use of pronouns or choice of dress that matches a person’s preferred identity.  

Substitute Bill for Senate Bill 233 sought to outlaw transgender treatment for minors and allow for causes of action against healthcare providers who provided such treatment. The bill would also have restricted the use of state funds for transgender treatment. 

KANSAS GOVERNOR VETOES BILL BANNING TRANSGENDER TREATMENT TO MINORS, ABORTION RESTRICTIONS

children protesting for transgender rights

“We’re on the right side of history on this,” Kansas Senate Health Committee Chair Beverly Gossage told her colleagues during Monday’s vote. 

Republican state Rep. John Eplee said the “language put in the bill” that prevents is an effort to prohibit “state entities, state employees, from promoting the use of different pronouns and, if you will, the search for gender change.”

State Republican Sen. Mark Steffen said the bill aims to stomp out “woke” health care providers who carry out such procedures on “confused” children.

“No more than we would ever tell somebody with anorexia that they’re fat would we tell a boy that they’re a girl or girl that they’re a boy,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Democrats decried the Senate’s vote to override. State Sen. Mary Ware, a Democrat, said the bill “tramples” on “the rights of some Kansas citizens to live peaceably, lawfully and free to make their own decisions about their own bodies.”

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man carries rainbow flag up stairs outside Kansas state capitol

When the governor vetoed the bill, she said in a statement the “divisive” legislation “targets a small group of Kansans by placing government mandates on them and dictating to parents how to best raise and care for their children.”

“I do not believe that is a conservative value, and it’s certainly not a Kansas value,” she said. 

The bill comes as more than a dozen states in the U.S. have enacted similar bans on surgical procedures and hormonal prescriptions for transgender youth. Idaho, North Dakota, Florida, Oklahoma and Alabama have passed laws making it a felony to perform sex changes on children. 

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