Gov. Asa Hutchinson Signs Bill into Law Protecting Women's Sports

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Posted: Mar 25, 2021 11:59 PM
Gov. Asa Hutchinson Signs Bill into Law Protecting Women's Sports

Source: AP Photo/Kelly Kissel, File

Governor Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) managed to step in where Governor Kristi Noem (R-SD) could not, by signing into law legislation which will prohibit biological men from participating in women's sports. Gov. Hutchinson signed SB 354, "To Create the Fairness in Women's Sports Act" on Thursday. 

Mississippi's Republican Governor Tate Reeves signed similar legislation into law earlier this month. Idaho's Republican Governor Brad Little signed the first law of its kind in the country last year, though it's currently going through litigation.

Gov. Hutchinson's move was quickly lauded by those who had criticized Gov. Noem for not signing such legislation into law which came across her desk. 

One such defender of such legislation across the country is Alliance Defending Freedom General Counsel Kristen Waggoner, who released the following statement:

Women and girls deserve to compete on a level playing field, and Gov. Hutchinson and the Arkansas Legislature have acted to ensure that happens for all female athletes in the state, whether in high school or college. It’s unfair to force women and girls to compete in sports against males. We commend the governor and state lawmakers for standing up to the corporate interests and activists who have been pressuring them to cave to a ‘woke’ agenda at the expense of women and girls. The law also provides female athletes with legal recourse if their rights are violated. That’s vital because allowing males to compete in girls’ sports destroys fair competition and women’s athletic opportunities—the very things that Title IX was designed to protect in federal law. When we ignore science and biological reality, female athletes lose medals, podium spots, public recognition, and opportunities to compete. We thank Gov. Hutchinson and Arkansas legislators for recognizing that and helping to protect a rising generation of young women so they can continue to pursue their dreams.

Waggoner has also been vocal in her support in television appearances and over Twitter as well, which includes criticism for Gov. Noem not signing such a bill in South Dakota.

Gov. Noem has used various excuses, such as requesting "style and form" changes, as well asked for certain portions to be changed, though her critics in this case warn that doing so will remove the bill's effectiveness, and that her indecision could affect her political career. Gov. Noem's office has also expressed various concerns and complaints with the legislation. 

Alliance Defending Freedom is involved with the lawsuits in Idaho surrounding that state's legislation. 

However, Gov. Hutchinson's office released a brief press release from the governor following his signing ceremony:

Today, I have signed into law SB354 called the 'Fairness in Women’s Sports Act'. I have studied the law and heard from hundreds of constituents on this issue. I signed the law as a fan of women’s sports from basketball to soccer and including many others in which women compete successfully. This law simply says that female athletes should not have to compete in a sport against a student of the male sex when the sport is designed for women’s competition. As I have stated previously, I agree with the intention of this law. This will help promote and maintain fairness in women’s sporting events.

Should the bill be allowed to go into effect pending any potential future lawsuits, it will go into effect over the summer.