State Senate Overrides Governor’s Veto of Anti-Transgender Legislation; House Will Hear Bill Wednesday Afternoon

In an unprecedented veto override session, the Louisiana State Senate voted Tuesday to override Governor John Bel Edwards’ veto of Senate Bill 156 which bans transgender athletes from competing on school sports teams with their identified gender. The bill was authored by Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, who defended the legislation and said she was speaking on behalf of “the large majority of people in this state.”  

During the sometimes-raucous debate, Sen. Karen Carter Peterson spoke out strongly in favor of transgender rights and said the people of Louisiana had much to lose if the legislation became law. The Senate voted 26-12 in support of the override with not a vote to spare. Metro New Orleans senators who voted against the override were Joe Bouie, Jimmy Harris, Karen Carter Peterson and Gary Carter, in his first vote as a State Senator.  

Transgender advocates who represented Real Name Campaign NOLA, an organization that fights for accessible name and gender marker changes, were aggressively removed from the House Chamber balcony for holding up a banner in opposition to the legislation. Their removal was orchestrated by the Sergeants at Arms who work for Clay Schexnayder, the Speaker of the House.

In a prepared statement, City Council President Helena Moreno said, “As a former legislator I have seen many protesters in the House Chamber and never seen any removed like this. I view this as a physical manifestation of what some legislators are doing to the transgender community. It’s horrific and sad.” 


Moreno continued by saying that she will “stand up for our New Orleans values of tolerance, love and acceptance for all against any attacks, whether in Baton Rouge or anywhere else.”

The Louisiana House of Representatives will convene at 1 p.m. Wednesday and will debate SB 156. The politics of the House are more inclusive than the Senate. Though Republicans are slightly favored to succeed in overriding the Governor’s veto, there is a chance that pro-transgender rights advocates could carry the day. 

A coalition of transgender activists and their allies including members of the business community and Governor Edwards staff tried valiantly to bottle up the legislation in the Senate. But the regressive political leanings of the body were too strong. The coalition has been actively working state representatives and will be pulling out all the stops on the House floor Wednesday. 

Media access has been tightened during the session, allegedly due to an increase in COVID cases. 

SB 156 was the only Senate bill heard Tuesday in which the veto override was successful. The Senate failed to override the Governor’s veto of a proposal which would have allowed for concealed carry of guns without a permit. It is possible that the Senate might try to re-hear the concealed carry bill and other failed legislation, but the odds of success are slim.    

Although the Legislature has overridden gubernatorial vetoes previously, a separate session has never been held for that purpose.  The majority of Louisiana’s legislators are right-wing members of the Republican Party determined to undermine Governor Edwards’ policy initiatives. The session must end by Saturday. At that point, progressive voters will know how many of the governor’s New Orleans policy priorities survived.  

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