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Hayes, Logan sound off on transgender athletes, abortion rights in congressional debate

Incumbent Jahana Hayes (left) and Republican challenger George Logan appear for the Fifth Congressional District debate at Central Connecticut State University.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
Incumbent Jahana Hayes (left) and Republican challenger George Logan appear for the Fifth Congressional District debate at Central Connecticut State University.

U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes and Republican challenger George Logan met Thursday night in New Britain for a debate centering on abortion access and transgender rights.

Connecticut policy gives transgender athletes the right to compete on teams based on their gender identity. But Logan said he disagrees with that.

"It’s not fair to the girls and young women that are competing in high school sports, or K-through-12 sports. And ... trying to win scholarships.” Logan said.

Across the country, politicians, including some in Connecticut, have singled out transgender children, saying they should not be allowed to compete in certain high school sporting events.

Hayes said discriminating based on gender identity is wrong and that the state has already decided the issue.

“On every other issue Mr. Logan says, the state should decide. Well, Connecticut has decided that transgender atheletes can play high school sports,” Hayes said.

In 2020, former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said she would withhold federal funds from school districts in Connecticut that allowed transgender athletes to play.

Republican challenger George Logan waits to take the stage before the Fifth Congressional District debate with incumbent Democrat Jahana Hayes at Central Connecticut State University.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
Republican challenger George Logan waits to take the stage before the Fifth Congressional District debate with incumbent Democrat Jahana Hayes at Central Connecticut State University.

On access to abortion and Congress’ role in the issue

The race for congress in the state’s 5th Congressional District, which includes western Connecticut and suburbs west of Hartford, is one of Connecticut’s most closely-watched contests, attracting more than $5 million in outside money.

Throughout the campaign, abortion rights has been a persistent issue. Thursday night’s debate at Central Connecticut State University was no exception.

Logan said he wouldn’t support a bill aimed at codifying Roe v. Wade in federal law.

“I think a decision has been made by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Logan said. “I will do everything in my power to make sure that a woman’s right to choose is in no way infringed from what we have here in Connecticut state law.”

Hayes said she would “absolutely vote yes” if there was a federal vote codifying abortion rights.

“The decision is between a woman and her doctor – full stop,” Hayes said. “There is no room for government intervention. There is no room for me.”

Earlier this month, Hayes and Vice President Kamala Harris met at CCSU for a roundtable discussion on abortion rights.

Logan has said Democrats should be more focused on issues related to the economy and inflation.

Democrat incumbent Jahana Hayes speaks with reports after debating Republican challenger George Logan in the Fifth Congressional District debate at Central Connecticut State University.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
Democrat incumbent Jahana Hayes speaks with reports after debating Republican challenger George Logan in the Fifth Congressional District debate at Central Connecticut State University.

About the candidates

Hayes made history in 2018 as the first Black woman to represent Connecticut in Congress. Speakingrecently on Connecticut Public Radio’s Where We Live, Hayes said her message to voters is her record in Congress, including voting forthe American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Congress passed in March 2021.

Logan served for two terms as a state senator. He is trained as an engineer and played guitar in a Jimi Hendrix tribute band. Logan told Connecticut Public Radio’s Where We Live earlier this week he would describe himself “as a proud Connecticut Republican. I’m more moderate when it comes to dealing with social issues and more conservative leaning when it comes to financial, fiscal issues.”

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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