LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas General Assembly has voted to override Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill that would ban certain medical treatments for transgender youth.
The vote came one day after the announcement of Hutchinson’s veto of HB1570, called the “SAFE Act” by its sponsors.
The vote in the Senate followed a quick vote by the Arkansas House. Both chambers originally passed the measure by wide margins.
The bill is now set to become state law 90 days after the end of the legislative session, which is currently scheduled for April 30.
During his weekly COVID-19 address, which was happening at the same time the debate and votes on the veto override, Hutchinson said he fully expected the legislature to reverse his decision.
Supporters of the original measure show renewed support for the veto override. The Arkansas-based group Family Council called the legislature’s move “the right decision.”
“This is really good news. Gender-reassignment surgeries can leave children sterilized and scarred for life.
Medical researchers do not know the long-term effects these procedures and therapies can have on kids. That is why many people equate them with experimenting on children.
This good legislation will protect Arkansas’ children from sex-reassignment procedures.Jerry Cox Family Council President
We appreciate their leadership, their moral courage, and their resolve to do what is right. This is historic legislation. Arkansans ought to be proud of their leaders for doing the right thing by passing the SAFE Act into law.”
The veto override was quickly criticized by groups supporting LGBTQ+ rights. ACLU of Arkansas executive director Holly Dickson issued a statement on the override, calling it the latest effort in a “discriminatory crusade against trans youth.”
“Today Arkansas legislators disregarded widespread, overwhelming, and bipartisan opposition to this bill and continued their discriminatory crusade against trans youth. As Governor Hutchinson noted in his veto message, denying care to trans youth can lead to harmful and life-threatening consequences. This is a sad day for Arkansas, but this fight is not over — and we’re in it for the long haul. Attempting to block trans youth from the care they need simply because of who they are is not only wrong, it’s also illegal, and we will be filing a lawsuit to challenge this law in court. We are hearing from concerned families all over the state who are afraid about the impact of this bill and others like it. We are committed to doing all we can to support these families and ensure they know how to continue to fight for their rights and get the care and resources they need.Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director
“No matter what these politicians do or say, one thing has not changed: trans youth are loved, they are seen, and we will never stop fighting to defend their dignity, their rights and their lives. To everyone who spoke out against this bill: now is the time to stay loud, not only for trans lives, but for all the fundamental rights that politicians are hellbent on attacking.”
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.