Protesters gather at Nebraska capitol as youth trans care bill, abortion debate unfolds

Published: May. 16, 2023 at 5:57 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - People opposed to debate over the ban on gender-affirming care for youth had planned to gather Tuesday night, but the debate got going much earlier than expected.

Outside the Legislative chambers, protesters gathered as two extremely divisive subjects are back up for debate at the Unicameral: transgender care for minors accompanied by an amendment to further restrict abortion.

Just before 5:30 p.m. — when the protest had been originally scheduled to begin — the back doors to the Legislative floor were ordered closed because chants from the protesters could be heard in the background as lawmakers made their remarks. Lawmakers were then encouraged to speak up and speak clearly in order to make sure their voices were properly recorded over the protesting.

The protesters began to gather around 4 p.m. as lawmakers were debating processes.

People from both sides were in the Nebraska Capitol rotunda, each side taking different approaches to show their opinions. The energy continued to grow in the rotunda as all await a vote.

Their chants were audible in the Legislative chamber for hours. After 5 p.m., the loud voices echoing through the rotunda were only those of LB574 opponents.

Prayers are competing with chants: Those in support of LB574 gathered in prayer and song. Across the way, those opposed waved signs and chanted “One more vote to save our lives.”

State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha broke into tears on the mic as she was called on during debate, say she had been listening to the protesters outside and had just figured out what they were saying.

“‘One more vote to save our lives’ — and it’s coming to one or two men who are scared,” she said.

Digital Director Gina Dvorak contributed to this report.