Heated comments after Nebraska Legislature again advances bill to ban gender-affirming care for youth
Slama slams Hunt, Cavanuagh as ‘entitled liberal white women’ after sharp barbs directed at LB574 supporters.
LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Another win for conservatives at the Unicameral made for an emotional day on the legislative floor as Nebraska state senators voted to move LB574 to its final reading.
The 33-16 vote advanced the bill to the final reading.
After several unusual delays this afternoon — and some odd gamesmanship by the speaker with a promise by the bill’s sponsor to compromise with opponents on the final version — Nebraska lawmakers voted to end the filibuster and vote on LB574, the bill to ban gender-affirming care for minors.
Rhetoric around the bill again grew heated at times Thursday, with some conservative lawmakers suggesting that gender-affirming treatments have led to an increase in suicide and suicidal thoughts in transgender teens.
State Sen. John Lowe of Kearney repeated a common refrain among conservative activists and politicians, saying children were “being groomed” in schools to develop gender dysphoria.
State Sen. Brian Hardin of Gering said those urging lawmakers to follow accepted science on transgender health care “are the same people who chanted ‘follow the science’ on COVID-19 until it was no longer fashionable to do so about a year ago.” And State Sen. Kathleen Kauth of Omaha referred to transgenderism in youth as “a social contagion.”
As debate was wrapping up, Speaker John Arch of La Vista came to discuss a point of order while Kauth, the bill’s sponsor, was speaking. And then there was a 15-minute pause in debate.
Opponents, who filibustered for four hours on Thursday, said later that they thought the pause meant the bill would be voted down and that supporters were trying to rally their troops. But in the end, supporters had just enough votes to end the second round of debate and move the bill forward.
State Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha questioned the pause, calling out three of her colleagues amid debate on the next order of business.
“I had a conversation with Sen. Brandt and told him we’re never speaking again because he didn’t vote his conscience or his heart. And that’s going to be true for everyone,” she said. “Sen. Armanderiz voted against it and now voted for it; Sen. Hughes didn’t vote for it last time but did vote for it this time — clean. Just don’t talk to me again, please, any of you.”
The way the bill is currently written, it would mean that people ages 18 and younger would not be able to get puberty blockers, hormone therapy, or gender-reassignment surgery — a very rare occurrence in Nebraska — even with approval from their parents and doctors.
Kauth said she still wants to compromise with opponents of the bill before the final vote.
It’s not clear when the final vote will be, or what the compromise could be. There was an amendment that was voted down Thursday that would have banned the surgeries in Nebraska — which again is a rare practice here — but would allow therapies.
Opponents don’t believe Kauth is interested in compromise.
State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha said the senators are more interested in legislating hate more than anything else.
The vote brought Cavanaugh to tears.
“I don’t want to talk to any of you ever again,” she said.
State Sen. Julie Slama of Sterling called her two colleagues “entitled liberal white women” who haven’t been able to stop any bills this session.
To be clear: Children’s Hospital and CHI Health have each confirmed to 6 News that they’ve never done a surgery like this on a minor. Nebraska Medicine said it was so rare that even disclosing the number was akin to violating patient confidentiality.
The Associated Press and Digital Director Gina Dvorak contributed to this report.
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