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Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb. Scott Olson/Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS (LifeSiteNews) – Indiana Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb rejected a bill on Monday that would ban biological males who say they’re “transgender” from competing in girls’ sports, but lawmakers are poised to enact it anyway.

The Indiana General Assembly had overwhelmingly passed the bill, HEA 1041, which prohibits males, based on their genetics and anatomy, from competing in girls’ K-12 public and private school athletics.

Under the bill, parents or students can sue schools for damages over lost athletic opportunities or other harm due to violations and would be protected from retaliatory action. The legislation doesn’t apply to biological girls who attempt to join male athletics.

Gov. Holcomb had indicated last month that he would support HEA 1041, saying that he agrees “boys should be playing boys sports and girls should be playing girls sports,” though he declined to take a public stance on the bill.

In a veto letter Monday, however, Holcomb said that he doesn’t believe that the issue of gender-confused males in girls’ sports “requires further state government intervention.”

He pointed to lawsuits filed or threatened – often by radical pro-LGBT groups – against similar laws enacted in other states. “Any bill brought forward should address the issues raised in these lawsuits,” the governor said. Holcomb also took aim at provisions of the bill on filing grievances, which he said would “increase[] the likelihood of litigation against our schools.”

The GOP-led Indiana legislature can override Holcomb’s veto with a simple majority in both chambers, which could happen as early as May 24, according to The Center Square. HEA 1041 passed the state Senate in a 32-18 vote this month after clearing the House 66-30 in January.

Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston, a Republican, pledged Tuesday that lawmakers will vote on a veto override, AP News reported. “This issue continues to be in the national spotlight and for good reason as women have worked hard for equal opportunities on the playing field — and that’s exactly what they deserve,” Huston said.

Governors in 11 states, including Florida, Alabama, and Texas, have signed similar legislation since 2020, amid reports of biological, “transgender” males claiming to be women or girls and taking opportunities from actual females across the country and even injuring opponents. Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds approved a bill earlier this month that bans gender-confused males from competing in female sports at all school levels in the state.

Gov. Holcomb is at least the second GOP governor to have rejected sports fairness bill in recent years, following North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. Pro-LGBT Gov. Spencer Cox on Tuesday also vetoed a bill that would prohibit males from girls’ athletics in Utah.

Utah legislative leaders immediately announced that lawmakers would meet Friday to discuss overriding Cox’s veto, which would require two-thirds majorities, according to AP News. Several Republican Utah lawmakers have opposed the bill.

Like Cox, Holcomb, who served as Indiana’s Lieutenant Governor under then-Gov. Mike Pence, has taken pro-LGBT positions in the past. In 2019, he unsuccessfully pressured lawmakers to include “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” in a “hate crimes” bill.

Republican leaders in Indiana have strongly condemned Holcomb’s veto of HEA 1041. State attorney general Todd Rokita, who has endorsed the legislation, said in a tweet Monday that he would “vigorously defend” it in court “if and hopefully when the General Assembly overrides the veto.”

Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana also tweeted Monday that he was “disappointed Governor Holcomb vetoed a bill to make this law in Indiana” and called for a veto override “to protect women’s athletics.” “Girls’ sports should be for girls, and allowing biological males to compete with them robs female athletes of a chance to compete and win.”

“I’m disappointed with Gov. Holcomb’s veto of a common sense bill that frankly doesn’t go far enough to Save Women’s Sports,” added Rep. Jim Banks, who represents Indiana’s third U.S. congressional district. “My hope is that the Indiana General Assembly will meet soon to override the veto and send a message to the rest of the nation that Indiana values women.”