One state senator is holding up business in the Nebraska Legislature in protest of a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth.
Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh, a Democrat from Omaha, has vowed to keep up a filibuster in the one-chamber legislature to stop the bill from passing. She began it Thursday night in the old-fashioned way, speaking as long as possible. “Cavanaugh promised to take every single bill to cloture, meaning hours of debate on every single bill that comes to the floor,” according to TV station WOWT.
“If this legislature collectively decides that legislating hate against children is our priority, then I am going to make it painful, painful for everyone,” Cavanaugh said in a meeting Thursday that was recorded by local news outlets, NBC News reports. “If you want to inflict pain upon our children, I am going to inflict pain upon this body, and I have nothing but time, and I am going to use all of it.” She further vowed, “I will burn the session to the ground over this bill.”
She continued her filibuster until the legislature recessed Friday afternoon, then resumed it Tuesday when the body reconvened. She has kept it up through having strep throat.
“At the end of the day, this is going to hurt children,” she told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Monday. “I don’t care how sick I get. I don’t care how tired I am. I am not going to look back on this moment in time and say I didn’t do everything that I possibly could to fight for and protect children, especially our most vulnerable children, which are trans youth.”
Republican Sen. Kathleen Kauth, who introduced the legislation, LB 574, said it’s needed to keep minors from doing something they may regret. “These children need therapy to deal with the coexisting mental and emotional struggles they are experiencing — not irreversible, harmful and experimental medical procedures,” she said in a recent statement.
Medical groups and LGBTQ+ advocates point out that these procedures are far from experimental or harmful; rather, they improve the mental health and enhance the lives of young trans people. Kauth’s bill would ban the use of puberty blockers or hormones for minors as well as gender-confirmation surgery. But the effects of puberty blockers and hormones are largely reversible, and genital surgery is not recommended for minors.
Kauth has also claimed Sweden and Finland have adopted similar bans, but that’s not true. “Medical bodies in both countries don’t recommend surgeries for minors and have recently issued more restrictive guidance on puberty blockers and hormone therapy, but both still allow minors to receive the treatment if they meet a list of criteria or are involved in a research study on the effects of the care,” NBC News reports.
Cavanaugh, who happens to be a straight cisgender woman, has been filibustering a property tax bill, not because she opposes it, but to keep the anti-trans bill from coming up. Last week another lawmaker proposed a compromise in which the legislature would simply skip over LB 574, and Cavanaugh agreed to it, but the Republican-dominated body voted it down.
Cavanaugh has implored her fellow legislators, “Take your names off of that piece of poop LB 574. Talk to the speaker — demand good governance. Be better. Be who the children of Nebraska deserve, because they do not deserve this.”
Alabama,Arkansas, South Dakota,Mississippi, and Utah have adopted such bana legislatively; Florida has done so with actions by medical boards. The Alabama and Arkansas laws are blocked while lawsuits against them are heard. Tennessee may be the next state to enact a ban on gender-affirming care, as both houses of its legislature have passed it and Gov. Bill Lee has promised to sign it.