Nebraska MP threatened with censure for comparing transgender legislation to genocide

LINCOLN. On Wednesday, a Nebraska legislator faced a threat of reprimand for claiming a pair of bills aimed at committing genocide against transgender Nebraska residents.

State Senator Julie Slama of Dunbar moved the motion after State Senator Machaela Kavanaugh of Omaha drew comparisons between past genocides and two bills she said would lead to genocide.

State Senator Kathleen Caut of Omaha has introduced bills that Kavanaugh says “legitimizes hate.” They would accordingly prohibit access to certain health services for gender dysphoric youth and restrict access to restrooms or sports teams based on gender assigned at birth.

On Wednesday, Cavanaugh outlined the “Ten Stages of Genocide” as defined by the Holocaust Remembrance Foundation, which states that “genocide never happens on its own.”

“There are always a number of circumstances that arise or are created to create a climate in which genocide can take place,” Kavanaugh said, citing the credibility.

Slama warned Kavanaugh several times that she would try to denounce her. Slama told the Examiner that Kavanaugh’s speech downplayed the “seriousness and seriousness” of the word “genocide”.

“We must draw a line in the sand for acceptable behavior in this Legislature, as has been done in every other state legislature,” Slama tweeted. “Today’s action is not something I take lightly, but I refuse to sit silently while Senator Kavanaugh compares a bill protecting women’s sports to the horrific mass executions of millions of people.”

State Senator John Arch of La Vista, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, said, “We will not be considering this proposal at this time,” and the Senators continued deliberating the main bill.

Senators disagreed as to whether the movement killed.

The fight against filibusters continues for the third week

The fight arose during a debate over State Senator John Lowe of Kearny’s Bill 775, unrelated to the Nebraska Racecourse Gambling Act. Bill LB 775 is the latest Kavanaugh has robbed since he promised to extend the debate on each bill.

The confrontation also came the day after Arch announced that the one-day debate would start two weeks early due to filibusters.

Kavanaugh’s action began on February 23, the day after LB 574, proposed by State Senator Kathleen Caut of Omaha, was submitted to the full Legislature. This bill could limit youth access to puberty blockers, hormone therapy or surgery.

LB 575, also proposed by Kaut, has also been scrutinized. This is a bill concerning bathrooms and sports teams.

The Education Committee was due to consider LB 575 on Wednesday in an executive meeting where members were to introduce the bill (five of the committee’s eight members signed it). However, this meeting was canceled at the last moment.

Caut gave priority to LB 574, while State Senator Rob Clements of Elmwood gave priority to LB 575. This increases the chances that both candidates will be presented in the legislature for debate, despite Kavanaugh’s efforts to get the Legislature to “deadlock” to prevent them consideration.

While other states have been considering or passing similar laws, Nebraska has not previously considered these bills, according to Omaha State Senator Megan Hunt.

“Genocide never happens on its own”

Gregory H. Stanton, President of Genocide Watch, developed the Ten Stages of Genocide. He argued that in each of the earlier stages, there is an opportunity for the local or international community to “stop the stages and stop the genocide before it happens.”

While Kavanaugh said she wants to prevent a vote on the bills under consideration, she said on Wednesday she wants the Legislature to debate them and force the senators to go on record for £574 and £575.

“I want a record in the history of this genocide for those who stood for it, for those who had the opportunity to change the course of history – the direction in which we are moving as a state and a country,” Kavanaugh said. “I want the bloodied hands to be recorded. This is genocide. It is an attack on a group of people because they are different from you.”

Hunt said she also wants the bills to be tabled and then killed on the floor.

Hunt cited witnesses who said members of the LGBT community were part of a “social contagion” – a language Hunt claims Kout also used.

“It’s the same language used in genocides, it’s the same type of imagery, the same type of rhetoric,” Hunt said. “Calling people part of a social contagion is disgusting language, comparing them to a disease. Transgender is not a disease and no child is wrong. They are all exactly as they should be.”

“Cancel Culture”

Around 11:24 a.m., Slama countered Kavanaugh, stating, “We are witnessing a genocide.”

Referring to Rule 2, Section 9 of the Legislative Assembly, Slama raised the issue of order. Slama, Kavanaugh, and Arch met for a few minutes with the Legislative Assembly clerk at the front of the room.

Slama and Arch briefly left the assembly hall, while a group of other senators crowded around, analyzing the legislative rules.

About 20 minutes after Slama objected, the clerk formally read a vote of no confidence on the minutes.

When the senators heard the movement, they all stood in silence for at least 10 seconds, signaling a change in the mood of the day. State Senator Danielle Conrad of Lincoln confirmed the shift.

Arch responded to the vote of no confidence and decided to move on to discussing the main bill.

Conrad claimed that due to Arch’s decision, Slama’s petition was dropped.

Rule 2, Section 9, Clause “Exceptions to Words” states that a member “shall not be called to account and therefore shall not be subject to condemnation by the Legislative Assembly if further debate or other business intervenes.”

Conrad added that there are few well-established precedents for the use of the rule, and that the rule is for profanity or obscene language.

“Each member has the ability and opportunity to discuss what they see fit, and the cure for statements that you find unpleasant is to respond to them with more words,” Conrad said on the floor. “This is not to engage in a culture of cancellation. This does not mean engaging in great state censorship. It doesn’t undermine the First Amendment.”

“And that is what Senator Slama is asking us to do,” she continued.

Slama said she complied with the rule when the clerk read her petition into the minutes. She believes that Arch may bring her proposal up for discussion in the future.

This isn’t the first time Slama and Kavanaugh have been arguing on the floor over the order of the fight. During a debate in 2022, Kavanaugh called for a point of order due to Slama’s comments addressed to her. (This order was not recognized and did not result in any action.)

Previous Holocaust comparisons

Critics of the no-confidence vote, including Tim Royers, president of the Millard Educational Association, who ran against Caut in 2022, questioned why Slama chose to convict Kavanaugh, but don’t criticize others who have compared COVID-19 to the Holocaust, such as Kaut.

Kaut made the comments in a KLIN radio interview on December 20, 2021. She was not an elected official at the time.

Ari Cohen, a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and director of the Norman and Bernice Harris Center for Jewish Studies, told the Examiner that it’s important to understand “the real implications of effectively attacking a minority.”

Cohen said he understands what Kavanaugh is talking about and understands why those who support Kaut’s law would feel attacked. He added that there could be no direct comparison to the Holocaust because, like all genocides, it had its own circumstances.

However, Slama said there was a “huge difference” between Kaut’s and Kavanaugh’s comments.

“I think you are exactly comparing apples and oranges,” Slama said.

Cavanaugh doesn’t back down

Kavanaugh, speaking later in the room, called the situation “a little overwhelming” and said she would have preferred Arch to schedule a no-confidence discussion. This will show which members of the Legislative Assembly “support free speech,” she said.

“But I’m not going to be afraid to sit down. I’m not going to stop to protect the people who have been affected by this law,” Kavanaugh said. “I’m not going to stop. Period.”

Nebraska Examiner senior reporter Paul Hammel contributed to this report.

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