Legislative update: Ohio Rep. Gail Pavliga votes to override governor’s veto of transgender legislation

Portage County’s state representatives joined their Republican colleagues Jan. 10 in overriding Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of the bill that bans gender-affirming care and restricts transgender students’ participation in sports.

Republican State Rep. Gail Pavliga, whose district covers most of Portage County, and Rep. Steve Demetriou, whose district includes southern and eastern Portage County, voted yes. The vote was 65-28 in support of House Bill 68.

“Today, I voted to empower parents, protect children, and maintain the integrity of women’s sports in Ohio,” Pavliga said in a news release. “By voting with my colleagues in the House to override the governor’s veto of House Bill 68, we are sending a clear message that these are fundamental priorities for us, and hope that the Senate will join us in doing so.”

Pavliga in the release noted that the bill was a combination of the Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act (SAFE) and the Save Women’s Sports Act.

The veto override of the SAFE Act will now be considered by the Ohio Senate, which is expected to vote on it Jan. 24.

Civil rights organizations that include the ACLU of Ohio are encouraging senators to vote against making HB 68 law.

“This discriminatory bill would ban critical, gender-affirming healthcare for minors and prevent trans girls and women from playing on sports teams that match their gender identities,” the ACLU says.

In vetoing the bill Dec. 29, DeWine said he opposes gender-affirming surgery for people under 18 but does not want the government to interfere in other care decisions made by youths, families and their medical teams.

Medical care for youths with gender dysphoria, DeWine said in a statement, can save lives.

“Parents looked me in the eye and told me that their child is alive today only because of the gender-affirming care that they have received,” DeWine stated. “And, youth who have transitioned to a new gender told me that they are thriving today because of that transition.”

DeWine has come under fire from Ohio Republicans for the veto.

It is now up to the Senate to act. Senate President Matt Huffman told an NBC affiliate that he believes the chamber has the required votes — a three-fifths majority — to override the governor’s veto on Jan. 24. Ohio would become the 23rd state with a restriction on transition-related care and the 25th to limit transgender student athletes’ participation in high school and collegiate sports, NBC reported.

Before the bill went to the governor, the Senate voted 24-8 on HB 68 on Dec. 13. Democratic Sen. Vernon Sykes, whose district includes Portage County, voted no.

Correspondent Mary Kay Quinn can be reached at [email protected].

Mary Kay Quinn
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