The bellwether state of Ohio has become the 23rd state to protect children from transgender injections and surgeries, and the 24th to safeguard fairness and privacy in women’s sports, as lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to override the Republican governor’s veto. Yet Democratic opponents claimed Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus Christ would have supported transgender surgeries for kids, a transgender activist changed the words of a Christian hymn to support transgender surgeries, and liberals likened withholding cross-sex hormones from children to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
The Ohio State Senate voted 24-8 on Wednesday afternoon to reverse the veto of Substitute H.B. 68 by Governor Mike DeWine (R). (The Senate erroneously announced the tally as 23-9 immediately after the vote.) The bill — which combines the Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act (SAFE) and the Save Women’s Sports Act — bans the use of puberty-blockers, cross-sex hormone injections, and gender mutilation surgeries to anyone under the age of 18. It also prohibits men from competing against women in sports, prevents courts from denying or limiting custody to a parent who refuses to “affirm” their child’s transgender identity, and refuses to fund minors’ transgender procedures through Medicaid.
The Ohio House of Representatives overrode the veto on January 10 by a 65-27 margin — four more votes than when the House first passed the bill on December 14. The bill will become state law in 90 days.
“Given that five legislatures have overridden gubernatorial vetoes of legislation protecting minors from the transgender activists pushing experimental drugs and surgeries, any governor who vetoes these SAFE Act-type laws is either politically tone-deaf or being influenced by those who profit from this morally devastating, but financially lucrative industry,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. (Emphasis in original.) Supermajorities of state legislators voted to override Democratic governors’ vetoes of various gender protection bills in Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and North Carolina in 2023. Arkansas lawmakers also enacted the first SAFE Act over the veto of then-Governor and failed 2024 presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson (R).
Ohio to Trans Industry: ‘We Reject Your Junk Science’
“Today, Ohio has told an exploitative medical industry that we reject your junk science and will no longer allow you to experiment on our children,” said Aaron Baer, president of the Center for Christian Virtue (CCV), an Ohio-based citizen action group that spearheaded support for the override. “This marks a turning point in Ohio: we will not remain silent when our children are being harmed.” Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Matt Sharp thanked Ohio lawmakers for rejecting “the politicized and harmful practice of pushing minors towards irreversible drugs and surgeries in favor of compassionate mental health care that gives them time to grow into comfort with their bodies and true identities.”
“No one has the right to harm children, and, thankfully, states have the power — and duty — to protect them,” said Sharp. “Our most basic duty as parents is to protect our children,” said Peter Range, CEO of Ohio Right to Life, in a statement emailed to The Washington Stand. “Our children are our greatest legacy, and today’s vote ensures our children are protected in Ohio.” Thanks to the vote, “Child gender mutilation and gender ideology as a whole will end with a whimper,” said Chloe Cole, a detransitioner who testified in favor of the bill and returned to Columbus for Wednesday’s vote.
Democrats Invoke Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr., and Japanese Internment Camps to Argue for Transing Kids
The override vote overcame procedural roadblocks, disruptions by radical transgender activists, and disputes over whether the bill represented God’s will. Sen. Bill DeMora (D-25) moved to adjourn before the chamber could vote on the measure.
A transgender activist interrupted the very first speaker, Sen. Kristina Roegner (R-25), by singing an edited version of “Jesus Loves the Little Children” after fellow transgender activists booed and raised their middle fingers. “Jesus loves the little children. L-G-B-T-Q-I-A, He would be here — Jesus would be here — on their side today!” the activist belted out in the manner of a show tune, before being escorted out of the Capitol.
Democrats picked up the talking point, as Sen. Paul Hicks-Hudson (D-11) insisted overriding DeWine’s veto “does not show that Jesus does love all of us.”
“That same Jesus has determined the gender of every child. Let’s respect truly what Jesus” created, retorted Sen. Jerry Cirino (R-18). “Jesus does love all the little children, including the women who compete [in] sports,” said Sen. George F. Lang (R-4).
Yet Senate Democratic Leader Nickie Antonio (D-23) — who announced, “I’m a lesbian” during her floor speech — said refusing to experiment on children “wasn’t the Christianity I was brought up with.”
Hicks-Hudson also told lawmakers, “We are slapping” the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., who once said it is necessary to become “maladjusted.”
Another Democrat compared Republicans denying minors cross-sex hormones and gender-reassignment surgeries to Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s order herding Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II. Sen. Kent Smith (D-21), who noted he encountered men who identify as female in his “side-hustle” as a part-time roller derby announcer, compared his fellow Democrats to then-Colorado Governor Ralph Carr (R), who opposed Roosevelt’s order.
Smith, who accused his opponents of the “systematic dehumanization” of trans-identifying people, said one public school official told him she had more trans-identifying children in school than those who identified as homosexual.
Antonio invoked Issue 1, stating, “A majority of the voters spoke when they told us in November that the government shouldn’t be involved in their own personal, private health care decisions.” Yet during the debate over Issue 1, proponents steadfastly denied the amendment had any impact on transgender procedures for minors.
DeMora also inveighed that H.B. 68 “is anti-science and very hateful,” “horrible,” and “the inevitable outcome of this bill will be loss of life.” Legislators should pass laws “to make it easier” for children to get hormone injections, he stated.
Cross-sex hormone injections have caused females to suffer from side effects including “erythrocytosis, severe liver dysfunction, coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, hypertension, increased risk of breast and uterine cancers, and irreversible infertility,” states H.B. 68. “For biological males,” such injections cause “thromboembolic disease, cholelithiasis, coronary artery disease, macroprolactinoma, cerebrovascular disease, hypertriglyceridemia, breast cancer, and irreversible infertility.”
“Suicide rates, psychiatric morbidities, and mortality rates remain markedly elevated above the background population after inpatient gender reassignment surgery has been performed,” the bill notes.
Lawmakers reluctantly added a grandfather clause for children who had already begun transgender procedures before the bill’s passage at DeWine’s request; yet he vetoed the bill anyway.
Transgender procedures are not what gender-confused minors need, said Sen. Roegner. “What they need to know is that they are loved for who they are. They need compassion; they need counseling. What they do not need is chemical castration, sterilization, or physical mutilation. We cannot let this happen to the children of Ohio,” she said. “It is medical malpractice, and it needs to stop.”
Similarly, Sen. Shane Wilkin (R-17) said safety guided his support for allowing girls to have their own space. “I, along with many in my district, do not want shared locker rooms with boys,” he said. “I find this issue is not as difficult as we’re making it out to be.”
Ohioans largely agree. Sen. Andy Brenner (R-19) revealed on Wednesday’s “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” that 90% of the constituents who contacted his office urged him to protect children.
DeWine Yielded to ‘Experts’ on Transgenderism and COVID
Some in Ohio expressed surprise when DeWine, a centrist Republican, vetoed H.B. 68 on December 29. One week later, DeWine banned transgender surgery for minors by executive order, and he announced new regulations requiring greater psychological counseling for adults before and after transgender procedures. “I think it’s a good way to take this issue off the table” and “talk about other things,” said DeWine.
Brenner said, in lieu of longitudinal studies tracking the long-term impact of puberty-blockers on children, DeWine yielded to the dubious “consensus” of “experts” on transgender studies — much as he did “masking and lockdowns a few years ago” in response to COVID-19. “They don’t really have the data to back up what they’re doing,” Brenner noted.
Between DeWine’s executive actions and H.B. 68, “Ohio now has one of the strongest pieces to protect children in the nation,” said Cole at a press conference alongside the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Gary Click (R-88), shortly after the vote.
“The SAFE Act and Save Women’s Sports Act are the civil rights issues of our day, ensuring that children have the right to grow up intact and that women are no longer subject to men invading their spaces,” said Click.
Wednesday was a “great day for Ohio women,” agreed State Rep. Jena Powell (R-80), who championed the Save Women’s Sports Act. “I promised to fight for integrity in women’s sports, and I did not give up until we won.” Liberty Counsel Action also called H.B. 68 “a win for the safety of women and children.”
Not everyone was pleased. “F*** the Ohio Senate,” cursed the Ohio Women’s Alliance Action Fund (which did not censor its message). OWA helped craft Issue 1, which opponents said was written to create a constitutional “right” to transgender procedures for minors without parental notification — a position OWA and many of its sponsors support. OWA Deputy Director Jordyn Close, who describes herself as “a sex and pleasure advocate … working on destigmatizing and uplifting sex work,” has said “all barriers to abortion are racist,” because “every abortion is essential.” Similarly, the capital city’s chapter of the Young Women’s Christian Alliance — YWCA Columbus — excoriated the allegedly “discriminatory bill” as “another demonstration of the state weaponizing control over bodily autonomy.”
Ohio Republicans said they stand ready to protect the state’s progress toward protecting the vulnerable and creating a more compassionate state. “I am prepared to defend it against the inevitable legal challenge,” said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R).
While the bill’s passage is “a milestone for Ohio and the nation, there is still more to be accomplished,” said Rep. Click. “We must ensure that all individuals who experience regret have full access to both medical and mental health resources as they realign with their authentic selves.”
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.
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