Meet the lone Republican who voted against two Ohio House bills affecting transgender kids

Posted on:

< < Back to

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — Two bills opposed by LGBTQ advocates and Democrats passed the Ohio House earlier this week with only votes from the Republican majority. One bill — HB 68 — limited the health care LGBTQ kids can get, and another — HB 6 — banned trans athletes from participating on women’s sports teams. But there was one Republican member who voted against both of those bills.

Ohio House representative Jamie Callender speaks at a podium
File photo of Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord).

Republican Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord) said after talking with people who were affected by them, he determined the legislation violated his political beliefs.

“I am a Republican because I believe in empowering individuals and I believe in limiting government,” Callender said. “And both of these bills appear to me to do the opposite and put more restrictions on individuals and take away rights.”

Callender said he also wasn’t comfortable with them because they singled out people who are different than him.

“And I feel very comfortable supporting folks who are different than me in their challenges. I think anything else is a little bit mean-spirited quite frankly, and I am not going to participate in bullying or mean-spirited commentary about folks who are different than me. That’s what I believe America is and it is not who I am,” he said.

Callender didn’t retreat from his position when asked whether he feared a primary on the right of him because of his votes.

“Publicly and privately, my conscience can live with those votes. I believe it was the right votes and I certainly would do it again. I’d rather do the right thing and lose an election than do the wrong thing just to get reelected.”

Another Republican, Rep. Brett Hillyer (R-Urichsville), voted against the bill that prevents trans kids under 18 years old from getting hormones, puberty blockers and gender reassignment surgery, even if their parents agree to it. But he voted for the bill that bans trans athletes from participating in girls and women’s sports teams in K-12 teams as well as colleges.

The fate of those bills is now in the hands of the Ohio Senate, but that chamber isn’t expected to take them up before this fall.