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State senator, legal group demand retraction for tweet they consider defamatory


State senator, legal group demand retraction for tweet they consider defamatory

Mar 31, 2023 | 7:16 pm ET
By Paul Hammel
State senator, legal group demand retraction for tweet they consider defamatory
A tweet Friday from the Nebraska Freedom Coalition, which prompted a request for a retraction. (Screenshot from Twitter)

LINCOLN — State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha joined with a Lincoln-based legal group in demanding a retraction Friday for a tweet they maintain was defamatory and “knowingly false.”

The tweet, from the conservative Nebraska Freedom Coalition, included the hashtag “groomer” and photographs of the senator as a child and her son, who is trans.

“Grooming is defined in statute in Nebraska and is a serious crime. Given there is no factual basis in this accusation against Senator Hunt, it is defamatory per se,” stated a press release from the Nebraska Legal Action Fund and its chairman/founder, former State Sen. Adam Morfeld.

Hunt said she was “taking a stand.”

“No longer will we stand by while vile and defamatory statements are made to marginalize Nebraskans,” Hunt said.

The Freedom Coalition was among the factions that took over leadership of the Nebraska Republican Party this past year from loyalists of former Gov. Pete Ricketts. On Friday, it issued a statement condemning the federal indictment of former President Trump as coming from a “kangeroo court.”

Wasn’t aware of retraction request

When reached by phone, Patrick Peterson of the Freedom Coalition said he had not seen the retraction request and “didn’t spend much time on Twitter.” He said he did not recall if he made the tweet.

The Twitter exchange came as Hunt, who is bisexual and the first openly LGBT person elected to the Legislature, took time during floor debate to relate what it’s like to raise a trans child.

Friday was also “International Trans Day of Visibility,” which brought a small group of demonstrators to the Capitol Rotunda.

Hunt and her son were featured in a New York Times story about the nearly session-long filibuster being mounted by Hunt and Omaha Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh against a bill that would ban minors from obtaining gender-altering health care.

State senator, legal group demand retraction for tweet they consider defamatory
State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska News Service)

The senators have pledged to filibuster every bill on the agenda until Legislative Bill 574 is pulled from the agenda. The tactic has slowed progress of legislation to a crawl, and not one bill has been approved so far by the State Legislature 54 days into the 90-day session.

Hunt has called the trans bill a “hateful” measure that leads to increased violence against trans kids. On the floor Friday, she said the proposal would deny families the freedom to make health care decisions for their children — decisions that are not taken lightly.

trans youth
A group of teens demonstrated Friday at the State Capitol in support of trans youth. (Paul Hammel/Nebraska Examiner)

Hunt said her son is a happy teenager, who has lots of friends and joined the track team. She added that trans kids are becoming more and more accepted.

Bill introduced to protect kids

“I really think that the future is bright for you,” the senator said.

Omaha Sen. Kathleen Kauth, the main sponsor of LB 574, has said she introduced the bill to protect children from “irreversible and often dangerous procedures” to alter their gender — specifically, puberty blockers, hormone therapies and genital or non-genital surgeries.

The bill overcame a filibuster last week to advance to the second-round of debate.