Nebraska senators have vowed to resume their filibuster in the legislature, blocking passage of all bills in response to a vote to advance a transgender bill.
The bill, LB 574, passed Thursday after contentious three days of debate. Now it needs two more debates before it becomes law.
Dubbed ‘Let Them Grow’, the bill would ban gender-affirming care such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgeries for children under 19.
Responding to the bill’s progress, Sen. Megan Hunt, who on Wednesday revealed during debate that her 12-year-old son is transgender, said she would block all future bills.
Her colleague Machaela Cavanaugh filibustered for three weeks to prevent the bill from being voted on in the first place, only relenting when she decided to allow a vote so they could see who ‘has blood on their hands’.
Megan Hunt, a senator representing Omaha who is the mother of a 12-year-old transgender boy, vowed Thursday to block all bills in protest of the progress of LB 574.
Hunt said he would resume the filibuster. The legislative session runs through June 9, which means Nebraska politicians face the prospect of weeks of unrest.
‘We have made it clear that this is the line in the sand. People have said, what if we go after your bills? What if we put a bunch of bills introduced by progressives on the agenda, are you going to obstruct them too? Yes, because we are not like you,’ he said.
‘No one in the world holds a grudge like me. And no one in the world cares less about being mean than I do. I don’t care, I don’t like you.
Cavanaugh tweeted after the vote: ‘I will not give up on the children of Nebraska.
‘Failure is not an option because if I fail, I am failing the children, and I am not going to fail the children. You are with me? #NoLegislarElOdio’
The debate generated intense emotions.
On Thursday, ahead of the vote, Senator Jen Day made an impassioned appeal to her political colleagues to strike down the bill.
“Feel it in your heart, I know it’s there,” he said.
‘Look into the eyes of these children and these parents who are hurt to see this conversation. Please, stop!’
Both Day and Hunt have vowed to continue the filibuster.
Jana Hughes, a senator representing Seward, said she voted to end the debate not because she supports the bill in its current form, but because she wants to move on with business in Congress.
“I came here to get broadband and property tax relief,” he told the Nebraska Examiner.
Sen. Kathleen Kauth, who introduced the bill in January, accused her opponents of seeking the spotlight.
Kathleen Kauth, who introduced the legislature, accused her opponents of bragging
Machaela Cavanaugh obstructed the bill for three weeks, bringing routine business to a halt.
Cavanaugh and husband Nick Brotzel are seen on the campaign trail
“We knew it would be very, very difficult, but the rhetoric seems a bit intense,” Kauth said.
Accusing those who support this bill of promoting genocide, while being Nazis, seems a bit of a stretch.
Kauth accused his opponents of “nasty hyperbole to get a lot of national media attention.”
She said the bill was not introduced “in a vacuum,” noting that there are currently 87 transgender-related bills in state legislatures.
Outside the legislature on Wednesday, a crowd of opponents of the bill gathered to protest.
Inside, Kauth told the camera that the bill was introduced to protect children.
“There are no long-term studies showing that these procedures and prescriptions resolve gender dysphoria,” she said.
“And there are studies, in countries with much greater experience and gender transitions, that advocate expectant management because the risk of young people receiving these prescriptions and procedures is simply too great.”
Protesters are seen in Lincoln, Nebraska on Wednesday
Senator Brian Hardin of Gering and Senator Brad von Gillern of Elkhorn told the legislature that they believed there were only two genders and that transgender people do not exist.
Senator Steve Halloran compared parents who reject transgender treatment to parents who refuse to let their children drink alcohol.
“By today’s standards, I would be, and my wife would be, abusive parents,” he said.
That is a difficult admission to make.
‘Because at the time, as adults in the room, our children would come to us with the suggestion to do this or that.
‘And we would point out to them the risks of doing this or that.
‘Either having a party at a friend’s house, and that friend’s house was known for having drinking parties. And, of course, our children are minors.
We would say no.
Others said they weren’t sure about the science surrounding transgender people.
Sen. John Fredrickson is seen Thursday urging his fellow politicians not to vote on the bill.
Hunt told the room that many of those who made the decision had never even met a transgender person.
She said she was initially unsure about bringing up her son.
“I was anxious to bring this up and I thought it might be a disservice to the debate if I did, but this is my life and this is my reality,” she said.
‘My son has not been able to get gender affirming care. There are no counselors to make children trans, there are no counselors to tell parents that they have to make their children take these drugs or else they will commit suicide.
‘This is a scare tactic. It’s satanic panic. There is no truth in it because I lived it. I am an affirming parent. We did all the right things that you’re supposed to do and my son couldn’t get gender affirming care,” Hunt said.
She added: “I want to have a happy and healthy child like every parent of a trans youth feels.”
Hunt said that many of those who participated in the discussion did not understand the reality facing his family.
“Another thing you don’t understand is the issue of access in Nebraska,” Hunt said.
‘My son is not taking puberty blockers, my son is not taking hormones, my son has certainly not had any surgery. You know why? Because Medicaid denied it four times.
“I am a state senator, I am a woman with resources, power and privilege, and my son has not been able to receive gender-affirming care,” she said.
“That’s the reality of what transgender healthcare is like in Nebraska.”
Sen. John Fredrickson, a licensed mental health physician from Omaha and a supporter of the bill, agreed with Hunt.
He said the debate had veered into misinformation about standards of care and screening protocols, noting that “parental involvement and consent is always required.”
On Thursday, ahead of the vote, Fredrickson cited 2019 statistics from The Trevor Project that LGBTQ youth who have an accepting adult in their lives were 40 percent less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year. .
Fredrickson said the statistic made him think of his mother, who died last year, but had come to terms with it because he was gay.
He told his colleagues that Thursday’s vote was not final.
“Regardless of what happens today, head up, chin up,” he said.
We are survivors. Me standing in this room is proof of that.