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Utah Republican risks political career by speaking out against party's transgender sports bill

Utah state senator Daniel Thatcher voted against overriding the governor's veto of an anti-trans bill.

We live in an era of hyperpartisanship in the U.S., one that is shaking the very foundations of our democratic experiment. It's exactly the scenario George Washington tried to warn us about in his farewell address when he called "the Spirit of Party" our "worst enemy," which would eventually lead to "the ruins of public liberty."

Politicians are so entrenched in partisanship that it's rare to see an elected official take a moral stand that goes against the party line. When we do see it, it's often from a politician who doesn't have much to lose—someone who is retiring or isn't up for reelection soon enough for their going against the grain to impact their career.

But every once in a while we see an elected official truly take a risk to do what they believe is right. Such is the case with Utah state senator Daniel Thatcher, who is up for reelection this year and who spoke out against a state bill banning transgender kids from playing sports that align with their gender identity.


The bill, which did not receive any public input or debate, was amended in the final hours of the legislative session to create the all-out ban on transgender girls competing in girls' sports, and was passed in the Utah House and Senate earlier in March. However, it hit a road bump when Utah's Republican governor Spencer Cox vetoed it, citing multiple issues with the bill, including the fact that out of the 75,000 high school athletes in Utah, four are transgender—and only one is a trans girl.

"Four kids and only one of them playing girls sports," Governor Cox wrote. "That’s what all of this is about. Four kids who aren’t dominating or winning trophies or taking scholarships. Four kids who are just trying to find some friends and feel like they are a part of something. Four kids trying to get through each day. Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few."

He also pointed out that 86% of trans youth report suicidality and 56% of trans youth have attempted suicide.

"I am not an expert on transgenderism," he wrote. "I struggle to understand so much of it and the science is conflicting. When in doubt however, I always try to err on the side of kindness, mercy and compassion. I also try to get proximate and I am learning so much from our transgender community. They are great kids who face enormous struggles … I don’t understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do. But I want them to live."

Supporters of transgender rights praised Governor Cox for vetoing the bill, despite knowing the veto would most likely be overridden by the legislature. Four out of Utah's 74 Republican legislators voted against overriding the veto, but of those four, only Daniel Thatcher is up for reelection. He already has three opponents from his own party lined up to run against him in the primaries, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, so going against the party line—especially on a highly visible issue—poses a real political risk for him.

But Thatcher shared that he was willing to take that risk and explained his reasons for opposing the veto on several grounds. For one, he said, it's unconstitutional. He pointed out that the conservative-weighted Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision written by Neil Gorsuch, ruled that sex includes gender identity. Second, he said it would be a waste of money, especially since there's no way it would stand. Third, it harms the transgender community—people he has worked closely with and has grown to love in his work as a suicide prevention advocate. Fourth, despite attempting to protect girls and competition integrity, this bill actually harms girls, putting them in a position to constantly have their femininity called into question and their bodies put under more scrutiny than they already are.

Watch him speak on the bill to his colleagues in the Senate:


“And if I lose my race, I lose my race standing for what I believe in, like I always have,” he said. “In my world, conservative doesn’t mean turning your back on your principles.”

Thatcher knew his vote wasn't going to change the outcome, and he could easily have voted along with his party or even simply abstained. But he chose the path of integrity. With multiple states proposing and passing legislation specifically targeting transgender people in various ways, we need to see more of this kind of open-heartedness and moral courage. Imagine how different our country would be with more politicians who stand for principle before political party, and more elected officials willing to put what's right ahead of their own political ambitions.

The Utah bill goes into effect July 1.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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historyLady Justice, the image of impartial fairness. Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

English barrister Sir William Garrow is known for coining the "innocent until proven guilty" phrase between the 18th and 19th century, after insisting that evidence be provided by accusers and thoroughly tested in court. But this notion, as radical as it seemed at the time, can, in fact, be credited to an ancient Babylonian king who ruled Mesopotamia.

During his reign from 1792 to 1750 B.C., Hammurabi left behind a legacy of accomplishments as a ruler and a diplomat. His most influential contribution was a series of 282 laws and regulations that were painstakingly compiled after he sent legal experts throughout his kingdom to gather existing laws, then adapted or eliminated them in order to create a universal system.

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