Louisiana’s state representative switched parties, giving the Republican Party their first supermajority in both the governing bodies and a new Louisiana state representative.
Francis Thompson, a long-serving Democrat Representative, has been serving Northeast Louisiana for 50 years. On Friday, March 17, the 81-year old lawmaker switched his party registration from Democrat to Republican. He became the 70th Republican member in the state House. The supermajority of the state Senate was already held by Republicans.
Thompson stated that the current Democrat leadership, both statewide, and nationally, is not aligned with his morals or values as a Christian practitioner.
Thompson, 81, stated that the Democratic leadership at the state and national levels has been pushing for certain issues over the years. This is not consistent with the values and principles of my Christian faith.
This is a move that Thompson made after he joined Republicans in 2021 in calling for a session of veto override, which would have marked a new first for the south. A slate of bills, including one that would have prohibited boys who identify themselves as girls from participating in school sports, was rejected by John Bel Edwards, Democrat Governor. Another relaxed concealed carry restrictions on handgun owners.
The transgender issue was ultimately defeated by the veto.
Two votes short of the 70 required for Senate Bill 156 were cast. This was a blow for Republican leaders who called the first ever veto override session to override the Democratic governor’s Vetoes on the Transgender Bill and the Permitless Concealed Carry Gun Bill. The bill failed to receive enough votes to allow an override in state Senate.
Page Cortez, the Senate President, stated to his Senate colleagues that overriding a governor’s veto was deliberately set high. While the Senate voted to repeal the transgender sports bill’s provisions, the House did not. Cortez said, “That’s how it works,” as senators gathered their belongings.
In 2022, Republicans won a seat. Thompson’s flip means that the supermajority now holds enough GOP votes for the threshold to override.
A second version of the bill that protected girls in sports was eventually passed, but the governor refused to exercise his veto power. CNN reported at the time on the ban on “transgender women” and girls participating in athletics. CNN claimed that there was no “direct or consistent evidence” that girls who identify as boys have an advantage in athletic competition.
After the state’s Democratic governor refused to take any executive action regarding the controversial measure, Louisiana banned transgender girls and women from participating in sports teams that are compatible with their gender in all public and private elementary and secondary schools.
Gov. John Bel Edwards decided not to veto or approve SB 44, meaning that the Republican-led legislature in his state passed the ban almost a year after the governor had killed another version of the legislation last June. He called it discriminatory. To have any say in the matter’s fate, the governor must take immediate action on the legislation by Monday according to state law.
Louisiana joins an increasing number of states that have passed such bans in recent decades, with at least six already in 2022. Conservatives argue that transgender girls and women have more physical advantages than cisgender girls and women in sports. However, a 2017 study found no consistent or direct research to support this argument.
Louisiana Democrat Sam Jenkins released a statement Friday, expressing dismay at Thompson’s decision. He said he found the move surprising, pointing out that Thompson had previously caucused for the GOP.