The Sierra Club has called on Governor Hutchinson to veto HB 1570, which would deny medically necessary treatment to transgender minors.
As yet, he’s not indicated his thinking.
From the Sierra Club:
The Sierra Club stands in solidarity and allyship with the transgender community, and issued a national statement to that effect on this week’s International Day of Trans Visibility.Locally, the Arkansas Sierra Club today affirmed its agreement with the national Sierra Club statement, and also issued the statement below from its Director, Glen Hooks:“Our wonderful state of Arkansas should be a safe and just place for all people, including our transgender community. Unfortunately, many of our elected officials have chosen to use their power to attack, marginalize, and threaten the well-being of transgender children by passing House Bill 1570. Stripping away medically necessary health care that’s supported by American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatricians is wrong. The Arkansas Sierra Club stands firmly in allyship with our transgender friends and neighbors, and urges Governor Hutchinson to veto HB 1570.
The governor has been in this spot before, faced with bills he might be reluctant to approve. (I hope that’s the case here, given the unified opposition from such respected experts as Children’s Hospital and UAMS doctors.) It’s always a tough spot. He faces a high probability of overrides from the Republican majority, so unified in its retrograde politics that even the few reasonable members dare not cross one of the hotheads, lest punishment be exacted. He DID manage to get the House to sustain his veto of a bill to forgive fines of businesses that violated COVID safety rules.
The Republican obsession with transgender children is powerful, however.
It so far includes at least one more anti-trans bil on the governor’s desk:
SB 389 by Sen. Bob Ballinger requires schools to give advance notice to parents of any courses that mention sexual identity or gender orientation and to provide all materials related to those subjects so that parents may opt out.
Other bills targeting transgender people include two passed and signed by the governor:
SB 354 by Sen. Missy Irvin to prohibit transgender girls from participating in girls’ sports, kindergarten through college.
SB 289, by Sen. Kim Hammer, a bill to allow health providers including insurance companies to refuse services that violate their “conscience.” It arises from the resistance to health services for transgender people, but also enforces existing ability in a previous law the governor supported in an earlier session for citing a religious pretext to discriminate against LGBT people and to refuse to provide such things as contraception, abortion referral and related reproductive services.
HR 1018, to declare it the desire of Arkansas to resist any federal law or rule that encourages equal treatment of LGBT people. It passed the House.
HB 1749 by Rep. Mary Bentley to require public school employees to refer to children only by the name and sex on their birth certificates. This bill was withheld in committee Thursday for amendment.
SB 450, also by Irvin, to create another cause of legal action against schools that allow transgender girl athletic participation and empowering the attorney general to go after such violations. It’s awaiting action in committee.
You also may fairly count as an eighth the compromise introduced this week for hate crime legislation — SB 622, by the leaders of the House and Senate.
It’s a poor compromise. It makes no mention of hate. It requires no added punishment for serious crimes, only a requirement to serve 80 percent of a sentence. To be required to serve a minimum sentence, a criminal must be shown to have been motivated by a victim’s membership or association with a “recognizable and identifiable group or class.” This ambiguous definition covers just about anything — from a Nazi to a vegetarian. A bill that covers everything covers nothing. It would be laughable to prove in court. It is intended to create a cover for Arkansas so the chamber of commerce can disingenuously declare the state is no longer one of three states without a hate crime law. This bill won’t correct that deficiency. The relevant point: It was written this way to overcome legislative opposition to the original bill’s inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in its specific protected classes.
So here we are.
Eight measures are motivated by negative feelings toward a “recognizable and identifiable group or class.” On top of several laws passed in previous sessions.
It resembles the proposed new standard for a hate crime?
Numerous bills restricting abortion. (A whopping 19 measures on file; four already signed by the governor.)
Numerous bills promoting guns. (More than a dozen, with a couple already signed into law.)
Numerous bills restricting voting rights and elections. (More than three dozen, with a couple signed.)
All things considered, the relative restraint on tax breaks for millionaires so far is noteworthy. (But, yes, such legislation has been filed.)