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Responses to DeWine's veto of bill involving trans kids elicit praise, peeves, and promises

Soccer ball on rainbow background
Soccer ball on rainbow background

Gov. Mike DeWine has vetoed a controversial bill that would have prevented trans kids from playing on girls’ sports teams and from getting certain gender-affirming medical treatments.

His action has brought praise from Democrats and advocates for the LGBTQ community. But his fellow Republican lawmakers are talking about overriding his veto.

DeWine said he came to his decision on House Bill 68 after talking with Republican lawmakers who passed the bill and advocates who wanted it in place. But he said he also talked to medical experts as well as families of trans children. And after all of that, DeWine said his decision came down to valuing life.

“Ultimately, I believe this is about protecting human life. Many parents have told me that their child would not have survived, and would be dead today if they had not received the treatment they received from one of Ohio’s children’s hospitals. I’ve also been told by those who are grown adults that, but for this care, they would have taken their life when they were teenagers," DeWine said.

DeWine said he agrees gender transition surgeries should not be done on children under 18—though he noted hospitals have told him that doesn’t happen anyway. Still, he is calling for agencies in his administration to come up with a rule to make sure it doesn’t. And he wants a policy developed so data on the care of trans youth can be gathered and kept in the future—which, again, he said he would accomplish through a state agency.

DeWine said he’s hoping lawmakers who passed this bill will be satisfied knowing those actions will be taken and put in place. But he said the bottom line is this is “a gut-wrenching” situation for families and they need to have the ability to make the best decisions for their children.

“These tough, tough decisions should not be made by the government. They should not be made by the state of Ohio. They should be made by the people who love these kids the most and that’s their parents," DeWine said.

Cam Ogden, a young trans adult, agreed. She said she knows how important it is for trans kids to have the medical support they now receive because she didn’t have the support she needed she was a kid. She praised DeWine for his veto of the bill she said would hurt many trans kids.

“It was the decision that was humane. It was the decision that was most compassionate and the decision that was in line with science and parents," Ogden said.

Maria Bruno, the public policy director at Equality Ohio, the largest LGBTQ rights group in the state, said there are a lot of relieved families in Ohio, And she said she is heartened that DeWine listened to them as well as the medical professionals who care for them when making his decision.

As to the administrative rules that DeWine wants to put in place, Bruno said she hopes he will continue to follow the advice of doctors and families affected by the policies. Still, she said part of her is afraid of a potential veto override attempt from Republicans in the legislature.

“We have also seen that the proponents of this bill, you know, have a bit of vengefulness in them and I think that losing on this, even if we win on this, we might deal with a backlash," Bruno said.

Sen. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), the first openly gay Senate minority leader, said DeWine showed courage and leadership in this decision and put the needs of trans children and their families over politics.

“Too often, the LGBTQ community is used as a political football to make points and to score points with a base,” Antonio said.

Antonio said she has spoken with DeWine and offered to help as the administrative policies are developed.

Backers aren't happy with DeWine’s action

Aaron Baer, president of the conservative policy group the Center for Christian Virtue, said he doesn’t think the administrative proposals put forward by DeWine will sway lawmakers who passed the bill.

“I think everyone is going to see through what the governor has put forward with these executive actions because again, at the end of the day, if a governor can put these things in place by himself that means the next governor can come in and repeal them," Baer said.

Baer said he expects the lawmakers who passed the bill to override the veto.

Rep. Josh Williams (R-Sylvania) said he will be one of them. Williams said he sees DeWine’s action as an affront to the legislature, which Williams said has been responding to the will of Ohio voters.

“So for him to now say he wants to take portions of it and draft it into administrative code through executive administrative agencies is just an attempt to usurp power from the legislative body that Ohio voters elected," Williams said.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Gary Click (R-Vickery) said he believes DeWine was moved by families and medical professionals who spoke to him concerning the loss of life through suicide. In a statement, Click said he had invited the DeWine administration to participate in the process from the beginning and believes doing so would have led to a better understanding of the issue.

House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) noted the bill was passed by veto-proof majorities in each chamber. He added his caucus will take the appropriate next steps. Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said overrides to a veto must start in the chamber where the bill originated. And in this case, that's the House. He said he looks forward to that body taking the next step.

Lawmakers are expected to resume session in mid-January.



Contact Jo Ingles at
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