The House today approved SB 459 by Sen. Missy Irvin, a second prohibition of allowing transgender girls and women to compete in athletics from grade school through college. The vote was 74-17, with one voting present.
An earlier bill by Irvin contained the same prohibition. This bill allows the attorney general to go to court to prohibit participation, including by private schools in contests with public schools. It also allows some political glory for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.
Rep. Tippi McCullough (D-Little Rock) said the bill was “harmful, repetitive and unnecessary.”
She said it affects no one in Arkansas and amounted to “bullying at the highest level.”
She noted opposition from the CEO of Walmart and the NCAA, which may pull regional championships from Arkansas. As many as eight are scheduled and the University of Arkansas has bids in to hold regional contests in women’s softball and men’s baseball.
Rep. Jack Ladyman (R-Jonesboro) angrily said he was tired of corporations and outside organizations trying to tell Arkansas what to do.
McCullough said the only race this bill affects is the state’s “race to the bottom” with bills that strip rights and dignity from its people. The result, she said, will be a loss of “money, events and respect.”
Rep. Ashley Hudson told the House of U.S. Supreme Court decisions that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, including in a recent opinion written by Justice Neal Gorsuch. She said there’s a likelihood of court invalidation of the batch of anti-transgender bills from this session.
“People are trying to kill themselves because of these bills,” Hudson said.