Nebraska senators begin debate on bill banning gender-affirming health care for youth

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — After three weeks of filibuster efforts, tension took over the floor of the Nebraska Legislature on Tuesday during debate on a bill that would ban gender-affirming health care for people under 19.

“This is a very tough discussion,” Sen. Lou Ann Linehan said.

Senators in support of the bill said kids’ brains are not developed enough to be making life-changing decisions.

Sen. Kathleen Kauth, who is sponsoring the bill, said she’s been looking into countries with similar legislation.

“They are sounding the alarm that these procedures and prescriptions are not appropriate in children,” Kauth said.

Those opposed to the bill said it would make Nebraska a less attractive place for people to live. They also said the bill’s language promotes hate.

“It makes no sense to me that in 2023, we are still having conversations about ending discrimination in the United States of America,” Sen. Terrell McKinney said.

A group of organizations opposing the bill gathered in the Capitol’s rotunda to talk to senators.

A parent from Bellevue came to speak to his senator and talk about his family’s experience.

“I’m raising a transgender son, and so it directly impacts our family,” Daniel Richie said. “We are guiding our children to make decisions. That’s it. We are not guiding our children to be this or that.”

In a protest of Kauth’s bill, Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh filibustered multiple bills in the last three weeks, bringing the Legislature to a grinding halt.

On Wednesday, she compared what’s happening to transgender youth in Nebraska to “genocide.”

Sen. Julie Slama moved to censor Cavanaugh over the comments.

The next day, Cavanaugh announced that she would end the filibuster, for now.

The bill will continue to be debated on Wednesday and Thursday. It needs 33 votes to make it to the next round.

Cavanaugh said if it passes this round, she will resume her filibuster.

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