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Cox objects to federal 'hammer' on states over anti-discrimination policies

Posted at 5:30 PM, Aug 01, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Spencer Cox is urging President Biden to rescind proposed federal rules that cover sexual orientation and gender identity in health care, education and school meal programs.

In a letter sent to the president on Monday, the governor expressed concern about including sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under Title IX in rules proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture. Gov. Cox said he was concerned the rules "will only inflame and polarize the debate further."

Title IX is a civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded programs.

In his letter, the governor said such policy matters should be left to states.

"Using the hammer of federal funding to force states to adopt policies they don't support is the height of federal arrogance," Gov. Cox wrote.

The governor, who has been an ally of Utah's LGBTQ community in the past, noted the debate over transgender girls playing school sports matching their gender identity (he vetoed a ban that was promptly overridden by the Utah State Legislature). He said "I have tried to turn down the temperature and look for common ground between opposing sides."

"The changes your administration is proposing fail to seek that compromise or common ground and, in fact, makes such compromise far more difficult," the governor said in the letter. "They also, ironically, make any final resolution less likely, as the rule and guidance is certain to be rescinded by a future Republican president."

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes signed on to a lawsuit alongside 21 other states challenging the Biden administration's proposed rule on school lunch programs.

Read the full letter here: