Li'l Nebraska State Sen Lady Machaela Cavanaugh Sets Up Early Bid For BADASS OF THE YEAR!
Last month, Nebraska state Senator Machaela Cavanaugh declared that she'd filibuster every damn bill the Republican-controlled legislature put forward unless it pulled proposed legislation banning gender-affirming health care for transgender youth. Specifically, this anti-trans garbage would ban puberty blockers, gender-affirming surgeries, and hormone therapy.
A SPLAINER! What IS Gender Affirming Health Care For Kids Anyway, Because Texas Is Super F*cking Lying About It Right?
Cavanaugh wasn't shy about her intentions. She said, "If people are like, 'Is she threatening us?' let me be clear: Yes, I am. I am threatening you." She added, "If this Legislature collectively decides that legislating hate against children is our priority, then I am going to make it painful; painful for everyone. Because if you want to inflict pain upon our children, I am going to inflict pain upon this body.”
Those are the badass lines from the trailer for the eventual movie starring Elizabeth Olsen.
The senator maintained her blanket filibuster for weeks, and the Legislature hasn't passed diddly squat all year. Cavanaugh told her colleagues last month, "I will burn this session to the ground over this bill. I have nothing but time, and I am going to use all of it."
PREVIOUSLY: Nebraska Dem Just Gonna Filibuster Eeeeeeeeverything
Although Republicans' supermajority in the state Senate increased to 32 from 17 in 2020, they need 33 votes to end a filibuster. So kudos to Cavanaugh's colleagues for supporting her and not folding because of yadda, yadda, norms, yadda, yadda, business of the people.
She's now reached an agreement with Speaker of the Legislature John Arch of La Vista to pause her filibuster long enough to have a true debate on the anti-trans bill.
Unfortunately, state Sen. R. Brad von Gillern of Elkhorn offers a sample of the quality of debate we can expect:
As I considered this debate, I constantly reminded myself that this bill is about protecting kids and in truth protecting themselves from their own young and immature minds. There’s testimony today that seeks to imply that loving the individual is impossible if we disagree with them. I just want to say out loud: I hate that. Not everything that a child wants for themselves is good for them. We don’t let a kid eat candy every meal because we know it’s harmful. We don’t let them choose whether to attend school or not. We don’t let them jump off the roof because they think they’re a superhero.
This fool's argument is beneath the dignity of a Dr. Beverly Crusher gif because we doubt he would support legislation preventing parents from feeding their kids candy or hamburgers. "The state has decreed that all children must adhere to a strict vegan diet!"
Press coverage has framed Cavanaugh's filibuster as a "protest," which I don't think is quite accurate. Protesters ideally are demanding action from those empowered to make change. Cavanaugh has demonstrated that she's far from powerless. She's using the tools at her disposal as a member of the minority party. Her filibuster has blocked five other anti-trans bills, as well as a POS bill banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
Most importantly, it's believed that Cavanaugh only paused the filibuster because she now has enough votes to kill the bill dead. That's how you filibuster, folks.
Now, you might say, "How you can you support Cavanaugh's filibuster when you've consistently decried Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema's continued supported for the US Senate filibuster?" and that's a valid point for an idiot to have. Manchin and Sinema high-five each other while Republicans use the filibuster to block voting rights legislation and codify abortion rights. They also seem oblivious to how Republicans have killed the filibuster when it stood in the way of their agenda and would do so again without a thought.
Manchin and Sinema, despite their highly prized bipartisanship, never reached any grand filibuster-proof bargains on voting or abortion rights. That's because they're chumps. Cavanaugh is not a chump. She's a badass.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."