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Legislation to define the two sexes, provide safe spaces for women dies in Mississippi

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune.

  • Even a casual political onlooker would think a bill such as the SAFER Act would breeze through the Republican supermajority Magnolia State Legislature.

Legislation that would have codified the definitions of a woman and a man in Mississippi law while providing protections for women within single-sex spaces, such as restrooms, changing facilities and public student housing, died Monday night.

The news comes after it was announced Monday that the state is challenging the Biden Administration’s new rule for adding terms such as “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to Title IX, the federal law originally meant to advance women’s access to educational resources.

READ MORE: Mississippi among states challenging Biden Administration’s broadened Title IX rule

Mississippi has also passed the Fairness Act in recent years, a law prohibiting biological men from participating in women’s sports.

Even a casual political onlooker would think a bill such as the “Securing Areas for Females Effectively and Responsibly,” or SAFER, Act would breeze through the Republican supermajority Magnolia State Legislature.

As previously reported, opponents of the SAFER Act claim it is an anti-transgender bill targeting an extreme minority. Yet, supporters point to recent polling of registered voters in Mississippi from the Independent Women’s Voice that shows 95% of respondents believe it is important that Mississippi law protect private spaces for women.

Mississippi State Finance Committee Chairman Josh Harkins, R-Flowood, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The author of the bill, State Senator Josh Harkins (R), told Magnolia Tribune on Tuesday, he and his fellow Senate conferees were ready to move forward with the legislation. However, State Rep. Joey Hood (R), chairman of the House Judiciary A Committee, did not sign off on the conference report by the 8 p.m. deadline on Monday, choosing instead to let the bill die.

Senator Harkins told Magnolia Tribune that he had no idea why the House let SB 2753 die.

“I’m not sure why the House didn’t sign the conference report. We [Senate conferees] passed it and signed a report sitting in the Judiciary A chairman’s office two weeks ago,” Harkins said Tuesday.

House Judiciary A Committee Chairman Joey Hood, R-Ackerman, Feb. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

Conferees were named in the Senate on April 12th and in the House four days later. Senate conferees were Senators Harkins, Brice Wiggins and Briggs Hopson, all Republicans. House conferees were Representatives Hood, Celeste Hurst, and Shanda Yates. Both Hood and Hurst are Republicans while Yates is an Independent.

Attempts to contact Rep. Hood on Tuesday have been unsuccessful as of press time.

Another piece of legislation narrowly written to codify the definitions of the sexes in Mississippi law was the Women’s Bill of Rights, the wording of which was akin to the SAFER Act’s biological definitions. It, too, died on Monday, failing to move out of conference.

The Mississippi Federation of Republican Women, a strong voice at the Capitol, had identified the SAFER Act and the Women’s Bill of Rights as legislation their members were supporting this session.

Donna Maxwell, member of MFRW and President of the Jackson County Republican Women, was shocked that such “commonsense” legislation could not pass in Mississippi at a time when being a woman is “under attack by the Biden Administration and progressives.”

“You’d think in Mississippi of all places a bill to define what a woman is and to give her a safe place to go about her day in the most vulnerable of moments would be commonsense and easy to pass in a red state,” Maxwell said. “Here in Mississippi, the average conservative, Republican voter knows what a woman is. It’s a shame that our lawmakers don’t.”

Maxwell said she is disappointed that the SAFER Act died.

“When being a woman is under attack by the Biden Administration and progressives in blue states, Mississippi should be a safe place for girls and women to live and compete,” Maxwell added. “Our state leaders should have acted in the best interest of their wives, mothers, and daughters.”

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Read original article by clicking here.

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