Here's why first openly gay man to serve Nebraska Senate is in tears

Now, Republican state legislators have launched an unprecedented attack on trans people statewide. But it isn’t going as easy for them as they’d hoped.

Nebraska state Sen. John Fredrickson broke down in tears as he apologized to transgender people for Republican state senators’ vicious attacks and disgusting comments about trans people.

Transgender people have been targeted by the religious right and Republican politicians repeatedly in recent years – both in the state and at the federal level. But in Nebraska, the GOP has been particularly vicious, reports LGBTQ Nation.

Today, your Nebraska legislature voted to pass LB 574 past the first round of floor debate. To all LGBTQ+ youth and families: Heads up. Chins up. We will survive this. Know that you have fierce advocates fighting for you every step of the way, and this is not over.

— Senator John Fredrickson (@JohnforNE) March 23, 2023

In 2022, the Lincoln City Council unanimously approved an updated version of its 2012 “fairness ordinance” that includes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Opponents quickly launched a ballot referendum to repeal the ordinance, which would also strip veterans and disabled people of protections too, LGBTQ Nation report said.

The group that led the opposition campaign, the Nebraska Family Alliance, called it “a gender identity bathroom ordinance,” which “would allow biological men in women’s showers, locker rooms and restrooms.”

According to the report, Milo Winslow, the only transgender person to testify in support of the ordinance at the city council, died by suicide. The day before Winslow died, he said he needed to step back from his advocacy work because he didn’t have enough support to deal with the emotional impacts.

Now, Republican state legislators have launched an unprecedented attack on trans people statewide. But it isn’t going as easy for them as they’d hoped, LGBTQ Nation added.

State Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh is determined to stop a bill banning gender-affirming care for trans youth. When the bill advanced out of committee, she vowed to filibuster every bill proposed in the unicameral legislature this year until the anti-trans bill was off the table.

“If this Legislature collectively decides that legislating hate against children is our priority, then I am going to make it painful — painful for everyone,” she said when it all began. “If you want to inflict pain upon our children, I am going to inflict pain upon this body, and I have nothing but time, and I am going to use all of it.” 

“I will burn the session to the ground over this bill.”

And so far, she has. Halfway through the legislative session, Cavanaugh’s actions have resulted in zero bills passing. It would take 33 votes to end Cavanaugh’s filibuster, and there are 32 Republicans in the Nebraska legislature.

According to LGBTQ Nation, as Cavanaugh’s filibuster continued, Fredrickson took to the podium to speak as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. He broke down in tears as he spoke directly to trans Nebraskans. As he swayed uncomfortably in front of his colleagues, attempting not to break down, his voice cracked as he emotionally recalled his mother’s acceptance.

“I wish I could say or do something to change this,” he said. “To my LGBTQ family, I spoke to you at the beginning of the week, and I’ll speak to you again. Regardless of what happens today, heads up. Chins up. We’re survivors. Me standing in this room is proof of that.”

The filibuster continues. Republicans have refused to give up their vicious and dangerous attacks on transgender children and their parents, leaving the legislature stalled and unable to continue working, the reported added.

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