‘Absolutely Lucifer at its finest’: Nebraska governor criticized for categorization of trans youth care

Gov. Jim Pillen made the comparison while taking questions after signing Nebraska’s 12-week abortion ban, trans youth care ban
Even after LB574's passing, Omaha Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh is still filibustering in Lincoln.
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 7:55 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - The Nebraska state senator behind the filibuster that has spanned most of the legislative session said Tuesday that the signing of LB574 wasn’t the end of her fight for the LGBTQ community.

State Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha took particular issue with a comment made by Gov. Jim Pillen, flanked by Republican senators, at the end of Monday’s question-and-answer session following the signing of the ban on gender-affirming care for minors.

“Your Nebraska Legislature believes you have been ‘duped by Lucifer,’ that you don’t love your child, and that’s why you’re giving your child the care that they need. No, you’ve been ‘duped by Lucifer,’” she said.

At the end of a question-and-answer session that followed the signing of LB574, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen said kids need to be protected from trans care.

Alongside his two eldest granddaughters and surrounded by the state’s Republican senators, Pillen signed LB574, the bill to ban gender-affirming care for minors — which sparked ongoing filibusters from opponents throughout the session — and its attached 12-week abortion ban, AM1658, days after it was passed by Unicameral.

“We enact laws simply because kids lack the necessary judgment to make the best decisions for themselves,” he said before signing the bill. “LB574 steps towards making sure our kids aren’t making harmful decisions that they’re gonna regret for the rest of their lives and that they’re duped by outside voices.”

While not specifically referencing Cavanaugh, State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha, or any of the other senators who participated in the filibuster this session, the governor in his comments on Monday took indirect aim at senators in the Unicameral who had spoken out against the bill, dismissing “all the other stuff that people are trying to make it out to be,” and saying the bill is “simply about our protecting kids and saving babies.”

State Sen. Kathleen Kauth of Omaha, who authored LB574, echoed the governor’s sentiments in her comments ahead of the bill-signing ceremony, calling gender-affirming care “a social contagion” being inflicted on children.

“We have too many kids who are being swept up in what is a social contagion and being told their bodies are not perfect the way they are, and if they just switch their gender, they’ll be fine. Everything will be great,” she said. “That’s not true. Our kids need help. They need to know they’re perfect exactly the way they are, not the way they think they should be.”

And while the GOP senators who gathered in the governor’s hearing room Monday signaled the newest laws were just the beginning, Pillen said that the state was prepared for any legal challenges that might lie ahead.

Pillen signs 12-week abortion ban, trans youth care ban

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen signed LB574, the bill to ban gender-affirming care for minors and its attached 12-week abortion ban, AM1658, on Monday.

At a crowded ceremony Monday, May 22, 2023, and alongside his two eldest granddaughters, Gov....

LB574, which the governor called “the most significant win for social conservative agenda that over a generation has seen in Nebraska,” goes into effect Oct. 1. The law bans gender-affirming surgeries for those younger than age 19, the age of consent in Nebraska. In what the bill’s author called a compromise on the original legislation, which originally included a ban on puberty blockers and hormone therapy for those patients, new regulations for those treatments are set to be decided by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the state’s chief medical officer, currently Dr. Timothy Tesmer, an ear, nose, and throat doctor appointed by the governor earlier this year.

Nebraska Medicine re-affirmed its opposition to LB574 on Monday after the bill had been signed ceremony, but acknowledged the new laws put in place: “While Nebraska Medicine remains opposed to legislation that interferes with the doctor-patient relationship, the health system will comply with the newly passed law, even as it conflicts with long-established medical standards of care. Nebraska Medicine will continue to support its patients, staff, and physicians through these changes.”

Watch Monday’s full Q&A session

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen took questions Monday, May 22, 2023, after signing LB574, the bill banning trans care for minors, and its attached abortion amendment.

Producer Sophia Ridder contributed to this report.