National News Highlights — Mar. 17, 2023

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz speaks at a signing ceremony — Photo by Steve Karnowski / AP
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz speaks at a signing ceremony — Photo by Steve Karnowski / AP

Minnesota lawmakers rush to protect gender-affirming care
On Wednesday this week, as part of an effort to make Minnesota a "Trans refuge state," Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order protecting the right of LGBTQ people to receive gender-affirming care. He put pen to paper in a ceremony while surrounded by community members and other lawmakers.

"We want every Minnesotan to grow up feeling safe, valued, protected, celebrated, and free to exist as their authentic versions of themselves," Walz said. "Protecting and supporting access to gender-affirming health care is essential to being a welcoming and supportive state."

"I don't know what a group of people in Pierre who decide to make life more miserable and dangerous are thinking, but it's not going to happen in Minnesota," he went on, referring to South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem's recent signing of a bill banning gender-affirming care for minors.

In the state legislature, a bill that would provide more protections is awaiting a floor vote.

Rep. Leigh Finke, the bill's author, said that "the lives of Trans and gender-expansive people in this nation are under attack. There is a full-scale movement in this nation against Trans, Nonbinary, Two Spirit, and gender-expansive adults and children that seeks to make our community disappear."

Filibuster brings Nebraska senate to grinding halt
It has been three weeks since Nebraska state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh began a filibuster against a set of bills targeting Trans people. One of the measures would effectively ban gender-affirming care for minors, and another would restrict bathroom use and sports team participation.

"If this legislature collectively decides that legislating hate against children is our priority, then I am going to make it painful — painful for everyone," Cavanaugh declared. "I will burn the session to the ground over this bill."

Cavanaugh hasn't just slowed down the passing of the aforementioned bills, she has proposed amendments for every bill that has reached the floor, talking about her favorite Girl Scout cookies, the plot of Dreamworks Studios' Madagascar, and how the filibuster could finally end.

"I know it's frustrating," she said. "It's frustrating for me. But there is a way to put an end to it — just put a stop to this hateful bill."

Alternatively, one Democratic senator flipping would be enough to vote the filibuster away, but that hasn't happened. And as a result of Cavanaugh's efforts, which persisted through eight-hour debate times and a case of strep throat, not a single bill passed during the first half of this year's 90-day session. Only 26 bills have advanced from the first required round of debate.

OutNebraska's executive director, Abbi Swatsworth, said of the news, "We really see it as a heroic effort. It is extremely meaningful when an ally does more than pay lip service to allyship. She really is leading this charge."