The Republican-led Arkansas state legislature officially banned gender-affirming treatment for transgender youth this week, even after fellow Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed the measure.
Hutchinson told Cheddar he tried to stop the ban, as written, because of its broad language and failure to grandfather in patients already receiving hormonal treatment.
"In this case I think it is a government overreach," he said. “I would’ve signed a more limited bill that simply restricted reassignment surgery under 18. That’s something that we don’t do in Arkansas. Medical professionals don’t recommend that, obviously, and I would have signed that limitation, but this was overbroad, it was extreme and I vetoed it and I’m sorry for the young people that are adversely impacted by it,” Hutchinson told Cheddar.
While Hutchinson apologized to those transgender youths impacted by the Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act, last month the governor signed a law that bans transgender girls and women from competing in sports that align with their gender identity.
Hutchinson also said the law provides an out for physicians that may not want to perform reassignment surgery based on their religious beliefs.
The governor said he is concerned members of his party are moving too hastily on certain issues and are too quick to write off individuals who do not agree with all of the GOP's principles.
“We have to remember that the greatest changes in our society and impacts on culture would be the church, it would be the home, it would be individual decisions and the government can’t correct everything or change everything, nor should they,” Hutchinson said.
He noted his party traditionally believed in small government, so he is urging legislators to decide when new laws are truly necessary.
"If we don't do that I think we're going to drive people away, particularly millennials and young people and people who are more concerned about the economic issues and don't want the government to engage in the cultural war," he said.
“I believe we are a big-tent party but again, there is a danger that we’re going to be purist to the extent that we drive those people that might disagree on one particular issue away from us,” he added.
Still, lawmakers in his state are considering tightening up voter ID laws, even after Georgia Republicans were accused of disenfranchising voters, particularly in communities of color, for recently passing more stringent laws in their own state. Despite the outcry, Hutchinson says the laws are necessary.
“One, we want to prevent election fraud and that’s what identification does and secondly, we want to be able to expand voting and so one of the things we’ve done in Arkansas is to increase early voting opportunities and so, that’s the balance that you have to achieve."
While Georgia has faced backlash to its new voter laws from several companies including Major League Baseball, Delta Airlines, and Coca-Cola, Hutchinson said corporations should not make business decisions based on whether “they like what a state does or not.”
"This is not the right direction for our country," he said.