Nebraska state lawmakers advance ban on gender affirming care for transgender youth

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 12:00 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 24, 2023 at 10:58 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Nebraska lawmakers advanced a ban on gender affirming care for transgender youth, passing it out of the first of three rounds of debate.

The vote on LB 574 came after three weeks of filibustering, two days of debate and a final flurry of motions to delay the bill Thursday. Democratic senators took turns pleading with supporters to change their minds, at times getting extremely emotional and sharing personal stories.

Senator Megan Hunt shared her experiences having a transgender son. Senator Lynne Walz shared her journey with a child struggling with mental health issues and John Frederickson, an openly gay senator, was brought to tears about his own mother’s acceptance of his sexuality. The opposing senators asked for a no vote to protect kids.

“You’re acting like this bill is necessary to protect children, when the truth is that children are harmed by even the introduction of bills like this,” Hunt said.

Those who voted yes, including Senator Kathleen Kauth who introduced the bill, said they were voting in support of the bill for the same reason.

The bill passed the cloture vote to stop the filibuster 33-16. This included all 32 republican senators and Omaha democrat Mike McDonnell. Passing the cloture vote allowed the bill to pass with a 30-17 vote. The three senators who changed their vote after the cloture vote include Omaha Senator Christy Armendariz who voted against LB 574 advancing and Senators Jana Hughes and Tom Brandt and who declined to vote.

According to Kauth and State Sen. Mike Jacobson, the bill advanced largely thanks to an amendment hammered out by the two.

“This is about figuring out how to get to the finish line, and how do we get the best bill we can,” Jacobson said. “And walking away with nothing wasn’t a good alternative.”

In the run-up to the next vote, Kauth said she plans to pursue the amendment, which would shed the bill of its bans on hormone treatment and puberty blockers. Instead, it would focus exclusively on banning surgical procedures.

“The only way to get anything was to do this,” Kauth said. “So we will keep working with the puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones next year.”

It will need to go through two more rounds of votes before heading to the governor’s desk for final approval.

Bayley Bischof breaks down how a bill becomes a law in the Nebraska legislature.