The South Carolina Republican House of Representatives majority on Tuesday outlasted more than 1,000 Democrat amendments and passed legislation that would bar transgender students from playing girls’ or women’s sports in college public schools.
Democrats’ delaying tactics were largely symbolic, but held back a vote for hours before the bill passed 82-28 on Tuesday night. The bill was a routine step away from being submitted to the South Carolina Senate for consideration. This chamber is also dominated by Republicans.
If the law were eventually passed and enacted, South Carolina would join a number of other conservative states in requiring transgender students to compete with the gender listed on their birth certificates.
Between the four big boxes of amendments and a tornado warning that evacuated the Chamber, the debate dragged on for almost eight hours. But the majority of the Republican House of Representatives passed the bill around 9:15 p.m. Tuesday.
About a dozen states have already passed similar laws, and transgender athletes have become a mid-term campaign issue in states like Pennsylvania. But Republicans are not in step, as GOP governors in Indiana and Utah vetoed bans in their states.
Republican Speaker Jay Lucas on Tuesday dismissed nearly 600 proposed amendments, saying they are almost the same, with only small changes like changing the names of schools in each proposal.
After those verdicts, Democrats pulled even more, with the author of most amendments saying bringing the House to a standstill for several hours was a victory.
“Today we saw so many of my colleagues standing up for people who don’t often have a voice,” said Rep. John King, a Rock Hill Democrat.
Proponents of the bill mostly remained silent on Tuesday so as not to prolong the debate. An amendment was passed that would create girls’ wrestling teams in high schools.
Bill sponsor Rep. Ashley Trantham took the podium about to vote, thanking the people who fought for two years to get the law passed in South Carolina. It failed in 2021 in a committee of the House of Representatives.
“Your actions have brought South Carolina one step closer to saving women’s sports,” said the Republican from Pelzer.
The South Carolina High School League said it takes which teams a transgender athlete can play for on a case-by-case basis and has heard fewer than five inquiries. Republican Education Inspector-elect Molly Spearman also opposes the proposal.
Democrats said Republicans should be ashamed of singleing out people that much of society already treats badly.
“Leave these transgender kids alone. There’s less than 1% of them,” said Rep. Krystle Matthews, a Ladson Democrat.
Before Tuesday’s debate began, Democrats tabled four boxes of amendments — an estimated 1,000 in all — to amend the law. Republicans immediately invoked a rule limiting debate to just three minutes per amendment. If Democratic members had been able to continue to take their full time and keep asking for two-minute votes, the debate could have stretched into the weekend.
Some Democrat amendments would make significant changes to the bill, such as: B. allowing a public high school to opt out of requirements, or requiring women’s sports to have the same number of assistant coaches or facilities as men’s teams.
Others would rename the proposal, for example, “Discrimination Capital of US Law,” name individual schools, or allow school bands to only play at women’s sporting events.
The debate was also delayed by nearly an hour after the House of Representatives chamber was evacuated over a tornado warning for Columbia.
A similar bill made it to the Senate but was not debated. The showdown came as the bill faced a deadline this week to pass at least one chamber or it would require a two-thirds majority to be considered.
At least a dozen of the 43 House Democrats took turns speaking on the amendments. Lucas cut her off abruptly when her time was up.
Rep. Annie McDaniel was discussing statistics on mental health problems and suicide rates among transgender youth when Lucas summarily told her, “Ms. McDaniel, your time to change has expired.”
“All right,” said the Winnsboro Democrat. “I’ll come back to finish this with you.”
Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.