On Tuesday, Republicans in Arkansas overrode fellow Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill banning gender-affirming care for trans youth, making Arkansas the first state in the country—but likely not the last—to enact this cruel legislation. The ACLU has already promised to sue the state.
The veto comes just one day after Hutchinson, in a somewhat surprising but extremely welcome move, announced that he would veto the bill, HB 1570, while acknowledging that his veto would likely be overridden. During a press conference on Monday, Hutchinson described the bill as “extreme” and a form of “vast government overreach.”
“If House Bill 1570 becomes law, then we are creating new standards of legislative interference with physicians and parents as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive matters involving young people,” Hutchinson said, acknowledging the risks of denying gender-affirming care to trans youth. During the same press conference, he also defended his signing of a bill that bans trans girls from girls’ sports, as well as a bill that would allow healthcare providers to refuse treatment based on religious or moral objections, which only underscores that not only does Hutchinson suck, the activists and organizers who were able to successfully pressure him deserve all of the praise.
Hutchinson also seemed to be motivated by a keen desire for Arkansas to avoid the fate that befell North Carolina when that state’s Republicans passed the discriminatory bathroom bill HB 2. “We want to send a message of tolerance and diversity,” Hutchinson said as he urged his fellow Republicans to water down the bill.
That they didn’t listen to him speaks to a disturbing truth, one that can be seen in Republican politicians’ outrage over Major League Baseball pulling its All-Star game out of Georgia and their extremely weird rant that Dr. Seuss is a victim of “cancel culture.” Republicans have given up on any principles except maintaining their grip on power, and they recognize that all they have to offer their base now is drummed up and entirely manufactured moral panics.
Congrats to Arkansas’s Republicans—and all of the elected officials pushing similar bills in other states—for being total shit-bag adults who see trampling on the lives of trans youth as merely a way to score political points. I hope you rot in hell!