/
State lawmaker credits 'Lia' for helping many choose a side

State lawmaker credits 'Lia' for helping many choose a side


State lawmakers in Louisiana are backing a bill that bans biological males from competing in all-female sports, and a state senator says the runaway success of collegiate swimmer "Lia" Thomas has helped change minds.

State lawmaker credits 'Lia' for helping many choose a side

Indiana’s state legislators have sided with women and girls over biological males and their own defiant governor, and a state legislator in Louisiana predicts her colleagues will do the same there thanks largely to a male university athlete named "Lia."

In a pair of lopsided votes Tuesday, the Indiana legislature voted to override Gov. Eric Holcomb’s veto of a bill that bars biological males from competing in female-only sports.

State senators voted 32-15 to override the veto and House members voted 67-28, The Associated Press reported.

With those votes, Indiana became the third state this year to override a governor's veto and take a side over transgender athletes, in particular males competing with and dominating female competitors.

"Women and girls deserve to compete on a level playing field," says attorney Christiana Kiefer of Alliance Defending Freedom, a law firm that is representing female athletes. "We are grateful to the Indiana legislature for responding to the nationwide threat to fairness in women's sports by overriding Governor Eric Holcomb’s misguided veto of HB 1041."

What might see like a common-sense state law to much of the public comes with political pressure when legislation is introduced. Lawmakers are often called “transphobic” and accused of bigotry by angry, sign-toting homosexual rights activists. Influential business interests, cowering from the bad publicity, share their unhappiness with legislators, too.

Another tactic is to claim the legislation is a bill in search of a non-existent problem. That was the argument of Gov. Holcomb, who said there are “zero cases” in the state.

Yet the same AP story that reported on the veto, and on Gov. Holcomb’s claim, said the American Civil Liberties Union is suing to stop the bill on behalf of a transgender girl --- a biological boy --- who plays on an all-girls softball team at school.

Meridian Baldacci, speaking for the Family Policy Alliance, tells AFN that Indiana is part of a "larger story" across the U.S. in which the public says "Enough is enough" over the issue of transgender athletes.

Kiefer, Christiana (ADF) Kiefer

Indiana, in fact, joins Idaho, Arkansas, Mississippi, Montana, Alabama, Tennessee, South Dakota, West Virginia, Texas, Florida, Iowa, Utah, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, and South Carolina in siding with all-female sports and barring males from participating.

Even in the face of pressure, Baldacci says, state legislators are backing female athletes and their plea for fairness in sports.

Down south in Louisiana, state legislators there have now overwhelmingly passed the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” for the second year in a row. Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to veto it again, too.

Responding to that expected veto, state Sen. Beth Mizell told the “Washington Watch” radio program that legislators feel confident they can overcome the veto.

That is because state lawmakers voted 32-6 in the Senate and 72-21 in the House to pass the Act.

According to Mizell, many of her fellow lawmakers got behind the legislation during the current session because of the Will Thomas controversy at the University of Pennsylvania. Thomas, who now goes by “Lia,” is a male swimmer at the university where he is swimming on the women’s team because he identifies as a female.

Baldacci, Meridian (Family Policy Alliance) Baldacci

Thomas is also a muscular, six foot-plus senior who has crushed Ivy League records set by women, angering opponents and his own teammates. For that he has become a cause célèbre for those demanding rules and regulations, and state laws, to stop him and others from ruining women’s sports.

Meanwhile, the public has also watched the NCAA run from the issue while female teammates have remained quiet for fear of retaliation and losing scholarships.

The national media has defended and praised Thomas, and NBC News got caught airbrushing photos of the male swimmer, when he won the Division 1 NCCA championship, to make him appear more feminine.

For much of the Louisiana legislature, Mizell said, Thomas "changed everything in the way people perceived the bill from last year."