". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


EXCLUSIVE: ‘We Will Win This’: Ohio Rep. Announces Plan to Override DeWine’s Veto of HB 68

January 3, 2024

As Ohio lawmakers have scheduled a special legislative session that will likely overturn the governor’s veto of a law intended to protect children’s safety and women’s sports, the bill’s lead author has told The Washington Stand exclusively that “momentum is on our side, and we will see this through.”

Governor Mike DeWine (R) vetoed H.B. 68 — which would bar transgender surgeries or injections of minors and not compel female athletes to shower or compete with males — on December 29, the Friday before a major holiday weekend. On Tuesday — the first working day of the new year — Speaker of the House Jason C. Stephens (R-93) announced that he had called a special session of the state House of Representatives for January 10. Numerous lawmakers have promised to override DeWine’s veto, which passed by a veto-proof supermajority in both chambers.

“Momentum is on our side, and we will see this through,” State Rep. Gary Click (R-88) told The Washington Stand exclusively. “We will win this.”

“I haven’t engaged with hurting families, or tearful victims nor spent sleepless nights and long hours speaking to professionals, leafing through dry medical journals, and well-written books, researching the trends from Ohio to the Netherlands to give up at the one-yard line. The lives and futures of Ohio’s youth are far too precious for me to quit now,” Click told TWS. “We will see this to the end with a determined resolve to make the Buckeye State a safe haven for women and children. They cannot afford for me or my colleagues to quit now, and we won’t!”

Ohio’s legislative rules require a three-fifths (60%) majority in the House (60 votes) and Senate (20 votes) to override a veto. The Ohio state Senate passed H.B. 68 by a 24-8 vote, before the Ohio House of Representatives endorsed the bill 61-27.

“House Republicans have the votes necessary to override the veto,” agreed State Rep. Angie King (R-84).

Later on Tuesday, Click revealed on “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” that he and the governor came to loggerheads over one issue: “He wanted me to allow the puberty blockers,” said Click. “While decades of surveys show most adolescents outgrow gender dysphoria by adulthood, if they’re put on the puberty blockers, 98% will go onto the opposite-sex hormones, and then ultimately later to surgery.”

Publicly, DeWine said he vetoed the bill over concerns that teens would commit suicide unless they underwent cross-sex hormone injections or other procedures. But Rep. Click called the choice between unrestricted transgender procedures and piles of underage body bags a false dichotomy. “We know they have other comorbidities that lead to” suicidal ideation in people who identify as LGBTQ.

In fact, two studies from the founder of a clinic that carries out transgender procedures in Germany found that trans-identifying people who undergo transgender surgeries, or who play sports, are more likely to feel depressed and lonely than those who do not. The stories received little media coverage.

Click, a legislator and Baptist pastor, said the override effort has the strong support of his colleagues in the Republican-dominated assembly. “Before he was done with his speech, they were texting me, ‘Time to override,’” Click told Perkins. “They were ready to drive down that same day to override the governor, if they could.”

Numerous Ohio Republicans have criticized the governor’s veto. State Rep. Jena Powell (R-80) called DeWine the “worst governor in America” who “failed millions of women and children today by vetoing HB 68.” 

“I’ve worked on protecting women’s sports for five years. The [g]overnor has tried to stop me every step of the way,” Powell disclosed. “We MUST AND WILL override the veto and protect Ohioans.”

“We were elected to lead, not cower from the woke mob. I will fight tooth and nail when we come back to session to override the [g]overnor’s veto and put the safety of Ohio’s children first,” vowed State Rep. Josh Williams (R-41). 

HB68 is not finished, we must and will override this veto,” said State Rep. Riordan McClain (R-87). State Reps. Ron Ferguson (R-96,) Derek Merrin (R-42), Tim Barhorst (R-85), and Brian Stewart (R-12) signaled their support for calling the legislature into session as soon as possible. 

State Senator Niraj Antani (R-6) agreed, saying on the day of the veto that both houses of the legislature “must immediately return tonight to vote to override the [g]overnor’s veto.”

“We must protect our children from radical leftist gender ideology being pushed into Ohio,” said State Senator Michael Rulli (R-33). “I support an immediate override of this irresponsible veto.”

Political figures across Ohio’s landscape have demanded lawmakers use their power to protect the innocent from the predatory transgender industry, such as Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, which has boasted of increasing its transgender procedures by 544% in a single year. While representatives of Ohio’s gender clinics claimed they do not impact minors, they admitted during state legislative hearings on HB 68 that they direct children to surgeons who will carry out transgender procedures, including surgeries.

U.S. Senator J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) dismissed DeWine’s claim that he vetoed the bill to protect parents’ rights as “a slogan, not a justification. There are many things the law rightfully says no one, including parents, may do to children.”

Vance also noted DeWine’s statement “ignores the extraordinary pressure from interest groups and big pharma to green light poorly understood, irreversible procedures.” Ohio campaign donation records show that, over the last five years, DeWine has accepted $40,300 from state outlets that carry out or support transgender procedures: the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association (OCHA), Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and ProMedica Children’s Hospital.

“I’m extremely disappointed in the governor’s decision and hope it is overridden,” Vance stated.

In neighboring Kentucky, at least one doctor begins transgender “transitions” on children as young as 7.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R), who hopes to face U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (who defeated DeWine by double-digits in 2006) in November, agreed. “The SAFE Act does not curtail parental rights but prevents clinicians from committing reckless malpractice on minors.” State Treasurer Robert Sprague (R) also supports the legislators’ override efforts.

DeWine’s veto has become a national battle cry, attracting criticism from three presidential candidates, multiple members of Congress, legislators in other states, and concerned pro-child advocates.

“DeWine has fallen to the Radical Left. No wonder he gets loudly booed in Ohio every time I introduce him,” President Donald Trump posted on his social media platform, Truth Social. “I’m finished with this ‘stiff.’ … The bill would have stopped child mutilation, and prevented men from playing in women’s sports.”

“Legislature will hopefully overturn. Do it FAST!!!” Trump wrote.

Trump had said in September at the Pray Vote Stand Summit, hosted by FRC Action, that signing “a law prohibiting child sexual mutilation … in all 50 states” would “probably be number one on my list” during a second term.

Trump’s closest rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), said Sunday that the “Ohio legislature should override the veto done by Trump-endorsed Gov. DeWine. I’ve signed both of these bills — and I was right to do so. … [T]hese procedures are irreversible and should not be allowed, period.”

Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy, who lives in Ohio, said, “Kids shouldn’t be subjected to genital mutilation and chemical castration when they suffer mental health lapses. Shame on Ohio Governor Mike DeWine for this failure.”

U.S. congressmen concurred. “Shame on you @GovMikeDeWine. xy ≠ xx,” said U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio). “Override the Veto. Swiftly.” U.S. Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) added, “Republicans at all levels of government should oppose the mutilation of children. I hope the Ohio legislature can override this veto.”

DeWine’s actions were rebuked by the Ohio Republican Party whose chairman, Alex Triantafilou, asked “Republicans to come together to protect children, girls and to either override this veto or pass similar legislation without delay.” Lt. Governor Jon Husted obliquely supported efforts to overturn his running-mate’s veto, saying he hopes the SAFE Act will “become law.”

But Warren County (Ohio) Democrats, on the other hand, hailed DeWine’s actions as “[g]ood news for our transgender community. Let’s hope that the legislature does not override his veto.”

Other figures called DeWine a “spineless coward,” who stands “on the side of child abuse” and misogyny.

Record-setting female swimmer Riley Gaines, who testified in favor of the bill, said, “DeWine is a spineless coward that needs to be removed from office.” Chloe Cole, who underwent a double-mastectomy of her healthy breasts at age 15, branded DeWine’s veto “[a]bsolutely sickening and disqualifying from a man that should know better.”

“Override the veto,” said Cole.

Robert A.J. Gagnon, a professor of theology at Houston Christian University, said: “Ohio’s ‘Republican’ governor Mike DeWine … is on the side of child abuse, since no child should be going through surgical mutilation and castration that will have devastating lifelong consequences. ... And he is on the side of misogyny, for it is manifestly unfair to allow boys to compete in sports against girls, and an assault on female privacy to have boys in female locker rooms.”

Elected officials from other states weighed in, encouraging Ohio lawmakers to stand strong. “Praying you all will do exactly what we did in Arkansas when [then-Governor Asa] Hutchinson vetoed our bill protecting children from doctors permanently destroying their bodies,” said Arkansas State Rep. Mary Bentley(R-54). “We had more votes to override his veto than we did for the bill originally.”

Supermajorities of state legislators voted to override Democratic governors’ vetoes of eight pieces of gender protection legislation in KansasKentuckyLouisiana, and North Carolina in 2023.

But some have warned that, to prevent self-inflicted defeats like this in the future, Republicans must vigilantly vet their nominees. Jim Renacci, a former Republican U.S. congressman who ran against DeWine in the most recent gubernatorial primary, retweeted a message from one of his supporters which noted, “Primaries matter.” 

In his veto message, DeWine said he would implement administrative actions to require transgender facilities to report data on procedures for both minors and adults to the General Assembly every six months. He also said he would attempt to “prevent pop-up clinics” from taking advantage of the state’s lack of legislative guardrails.

“All of the governor’s proposals he offered with his override are hollow because they not only allow for children to continue to be harmed by cross-sex hormones and puberty-blocking drugs, but they are mere executive orders that can be immediately repealed by the next governor,” said Aaron Baer, president of the Ohio-based Center for Christian Virtue (CCV).

CCV has set up a rapid response center, allowing state residents to urge their state senator and representative to override the veto. 

But the bill’s author has no doubt he will be successful. “Some folks have mistaken my calm demeanor and measured comments as a lack of resolve,” Click told TWS. “I don’t have to scream; I just have to do what I said I would do.”

“We will win this.”

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.