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Arkansas lawmakers override Gov. Hutchinson's veto on youth transgender care

Arkansas lawmakers have overridden Gov. Asa Hutchinson's veto of a bill banning gender confirming treatments for transgender youth in the state.

ARKANSAS, USA — Arkansas lawmakers have overridden Gov. Asa Hutchinson's veto of House Bill (HB) 1570, a piece of legislation that bans gender confirming treatments for transgender youth, the AP reports. Now that the bill has been enacted into law, Arkansas is the first state to ban gender confirming treatments and surgery for transgender youth. 

HB1570, sponsored by Ark. Rep. Robin Lundstrom (R-Elm Springs), and Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale), prohibits doctors from providing gender-confirming hormone treatment or surgery to minors or from referring them to other providers for the treatment. 

A simple majority was needed by Arkansas legislators to overturn the Governor's veto. The Arkansas House of Representatives voted to overturn the veto by a 71-24 margin and the State Senate voted 25-8. 

The measure is set to take effect this summer. 

On Monday (April 5), Hutchinson said the bill was well-intended but is off course. He said if the bill becomes law, it would create legislative interference standards with physicians and parents who are dealing with complex issues. 

Two weeks ago, Hutchinson signed into law a bill banning transgender women and girls from playing school sports in Arkansas based on their gender identity, stating that it will "help promote and maintain fairness in women’s sporting events.” Republican-led states across the U.S. have drafted similar bills challenging LGBTQ rights, CBS News reports

During a press conference Tuesday, Gov. Hutchinson said he isn’t surprised by the lawmaker's vote against his veto.

The ACLU released a tweet saying they are preparing to sue over the bill.

"Today Arkansas legislators disregarded widespread, overwhelming, and bipartisan opposition to this bill and continued their discriminatory crusade against trans youth," Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas Executive Director, said.

The Walton Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving social issues in Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta, issued a statement Tuesday (April 6) calling the challenge to LGBTQ rights in the state "alarming." 

“We are alarmed by the string of policy targeting LGBTQ people in Arkansas. This trend is harmful and sends the wrong message to those willing to invest in or visit our state. We support Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s recent veto of discriminatory policy and implore government, business and community leaders to consider the impact of existing and future policy that limits basic freedoms and does not promote inclusiveness in our communities and economy.

Our nation was built on inalienable rights and strengthened by individual differences. Arkansas has been called the land of opportunity because it is a place where anyone can think big and achieve the extraordinary. Any policy that limits individual opportunity also limits our state’s potential.”

– Tom Walton, Home Region Program Committee Chair – Walton Family Foundation

Tom Walton is the grandson of Walmart founder Sam Walton. 

Family Council, a conservative education and research organization based in Little Rock, President Jerry Cox,  issued a statement saying, “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.”

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article stated that the Walmart Foundation had issued a statement about the bill. That is incorrect, the Walton Family Foundation has commented about the bill. 

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