Supporters, opponents react to legislature overriding Utah governor's veto of transgender sports bill

Posted at 10:00 PM, Mar 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-26 00:07:31-04

SALT LAKE CITY — As lawmakers were on the floor overriding Governor Spencer Cox’s veto of the transgender athletics ban, those watching on were ready for what comes next.

“I think we knew what the outcome was going to be,” said Sunny Washington, the CEO of Utah Tech Leads.

Utah Tech Leads is a political action committee that represents Silicon Slopes and other tech companies.

“We know diversity and inclusivity makes us and our company stronger, and we support diversity in whatever form it takes," the group said in part in a written statement.

Washington sat in on all the votes Friday on the hill.

“As much positive PR I can put about, you know, Utah tech and all these great companies and what they're doing, these dollars are working against us just by the headlines that are out there," she said.

But Washington and others feel this debate is not over.

“We're disappointed,” she said. “From our standpoint, we look at the fiscal irresponsibility of using taxpayer dollars to fight these lawsuits that we know are going to come, that the legislature knows that they're going to come.”

The ACLU Utah has already told FOX13 news it will sue Utah over the ban, issuing a statement that read in part:

“Litigation to stop H.B. 11 from taking effect is now both necessary and inevitable to ensure constitutional promises of equal protection for all Utahns.”

Another watching on and waiting for the next steps was the group Equality Utah.

“We didn't need to do this in the first place,” said Sue Robbins of Equality Utah’s transgender advisory council. "What I really hope going forward is this bill, in its entirety, is turned away by the court. I hope the whole thing goes away, and we can sit down at the table again and figure out a good path forward that's affirming for all girls.”

“As disheartening as this is, we know we have allies, we know we have an ally in the governor right now," said Olivia Jaramillo, the director of public outreach with Equality Utah.

Even though this debate is not over, with a lawsuit soon to be filed, they are still disheartened over today's vote.

"There’s no caring for the kids," Robbins said. "You can say you care, but caring is an action.”

On the other side, there were many on Utah’s Capitol Hill who praised the legislature for their actions and said it was a great day for Utah and women’s sports.

"I'm really happy that we have the legislators that oppose this,” said Tiffany Barker, a former collegiate athlete and a concerned parent. “People of Utah are speaking and the legislators are speaking, and we have a governor who ignored both of that.”

Barker and Stephanie Grant, also a former collegiate athlete and a mother, brought their children to watch.

“For them to see our legislators support women's sports was huge. They were here today watching that," Grant said.

Despite the threat of lawsuits, the pair and other supporters of the bill believe this was the right thing to do.

“You should always do the right thing regardless of if you get sued or not,” Grant said.

"Allowing men to compete with women is an absolute mockery of everything that people have done for us," Barker added.

Many today had messages today for those in both houses.

"We want to condemn the zealotry of the legislature,” Jaramillo said.

Barker shared the opposite message, saying to the legislature: “Thank you for representing Utah. Thank you for listening to the voice of parents.”