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Nebraska Democrat Vows to Filibuster All Bills Until Anti-Trans Bill Is Defeated

If the anti-trans bill advances, Democratic state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh has vowed to “make it painful for everyone."

The Nebraska state capital building is pictured in Lincoln, Nebraska.

A Nebraska state lawmaker has vowed to filibuster every bill in the legislative session if Republicans don’t immediately withdraw two bills seeking to ban abortion and gender-affirming care.

Nebraska state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh (D-Omaha) promised to obstruct any legislation from moving forward until the bills are retracted late last week in a speech on the state’s unicameral legislative floor.

The anti-abortion measure would ban almost all abortions in the state after a supposed “fetal heartbeat” is detected — a phrase that physicians specializing in reproductive health say is inaccurate, as the sound generated by an ultrasound early on in pregnancy doesn’t actually indicate that a heart has developed within an embryo. The anti-trans bill would ban physicians in the state from providing transgender youth with gender-affirming care, which can often be life-saving.

“If this legislature collectively decides that legislating hate against children is our priority, then I am going to make it painful; painful for everyone” in the legislature, Cavanaugh said in her speech. “Because if you want to inflict pain upon our children, I am going to inflict pain upon this body.”

“I have nothing, nothing but time,” Cavanaugh went on. “And I am going to use all of it.”

Republicans in state legislatures across the U.S., including in Nebraska, are increasingly introducing legislation that targets LGBTQ youth, barring them from participating in sports and restricting what kinds of treatment they can receive from their doctors, among other measures. One tracker notes that, in 2023 alone, lawmakers have introduced anti-trans proposals in at least 38 states across the country.

Cavanaugh acknowledged that her stance will “annoy” some people. “I want you to genuinely be frustrated to all get out with me,” she said.

The Nebraska lawmaker stressed her dedication to her promise, noting that, after a filibuster last week, she slept on the floor of her office before attending committee hearings 20 minutes later.

“You can not stop me. I will not be stopped,” she said.

Cavanaugh reiterated her promise in a Monday night interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

“I’m just going to practically make sure that my colleagues have to make a choice about what it is they want to do, what our job is. Is our job to legislate hate, or is our job to govern and work on tax cuts and work on the economy?” Cavanaugh said. “So I’m forcing their hand.”

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