BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota’s House dealt Gov. Doug Burgum his first veto setback of the session Thursday, overriding his rejection of a bill restricting transgender girls from participating in public elementary and secondary school sports.
Representatives voted 68-25 to override the second-term Republican governor, who vetoed the measure Wednesday evening. Sixty-three House votes were needed to provide a two-thirds majority.
The legislation now goes to the Senate, which will hold its own override vote later in the afternoon. Thirty-two votes are needed in the chamber for an override.
The bill last week got a strong 69-25 vote in the House but a narrower 27-20 vote in the Senate.
Burgum argued that the legislation endorsed by the GOP-led Legislature attempts to address a problem that does not exist.
“To date, there has not been a single recorded incident of a transgender girl attempting to play on a North Dakota girls’ team,” Burgum wrote in his veto message Wednesday.
Burgum said the state “has a level playing field and fairness in girls’ sports.” The bill, he said, purports that fairness in school sports is in immediate danger.
“There is no evidence to suggest this is true,” Burgum wrote.
The American Civil Liberties Union called the legislation unconstitutional and warned it would open the state up to costly litigation.
The ACLU said in a statement that the measure provides “solutions to problems that don’t exist and, in the process, harming some of the most vulnerable people in our state.”
“Nobody wins when politicians try to meddle in people’s lives like this,” it said. “Nobody wins when we try to codify discrimination like this.”
The measure calls for an optional interim study of the impact the bill would have on student athletic events. The findings would be forwarded to the 2023 Legislature.
Opponents say the measure discriminates against transgender student athletes and would threaten the hosting of collegiate and club sports events in the state and create legal and economic risks.
Supporters say the legislation would ensure fairness in girls sports and support Title IX, a 1972 federal law that protects people from sex-based discrimination in school activities that receive federal money.
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