In 2005, Judy Domina received a panicked call from her daughter. She needed to get her boys away from her husband who was abusing them. Judy drove without stopping to Iowa. She picked up her grandsons and brought them back to her home in Scotia. They had been severely abused, but Judy had taught children with special needs and had worked as an advocate for children and families; the boys couldn’t have had a better champion than a loving grandmother who knew the ins and outs of Nebraska’s health and human services. Still, Judy ran into roadblocks—and was shocked that even she was unable to navigate the system without help. She worried about her grandsons, but she also began to think of others: “If I can’t get services for these children, what is happening to the families who don’t know who to call or how to go about accessing these services?”In the last legislative session, Beau McCoy introduced LB912, Tennesee-style legislation that would have outlawed any municipal LGBT bias legislation in Nebraska by forbidding the protection of any class not specifically enumerated in state law.
We sat drinking coffee in Judy’s kitchen, as she remembered it all. She seemed lost for a moment in the memory then shook her head. “I see myself as the candidate for the vulnerable,” she said finally. “I believe that in a nation as wonderful as the United States we need to make sure all of our citizens are taken care of.” This philosophy, she said, grew from her upbringing on a small farm in Oconto in Custer County. “In rural communities,” she explained, “if somebody has difficulty the neighbors wrap their arms around them, and come in and harvest their crops or make sure they have food.” That sense of communal effort—of pulling together for the common good—is something that Judy sees as a core value in Nebraska. And she believes that, even as more and more Nebraskans move to cities, she can help farmers and ranchers find shared purpose with their urban neighbors.
That’s why Judy was shocked to see the behavior of her opponent Beau McCoy at a hearing before the Natural Resources Committee during last November’s special session on the Keystone XL pipeline. Many in the room felt that McCoy’s treatment of Robert Bernt, a Sandhills rancher who makes organic products in Spalding, crossed the line—ridiculing Bernt for erring on a matter of procedure, rather than listening to the substance of his testimony, to the point that Bernt eventually apologized for his “lower intelligence.” This is exactly the kind of excluding of constituent voices Judy would not tolerate. “No matter what my own personal opinions are,” she said, “I’m always going to be open to listening. I will work with my constituents to look at the facts together.”
Brenda Council and Brad Ashford took a dim view of the proposed law and the way McCoy's bill would have let the state run roughshod over the freedom of local communities to decide this matter for themselves; they helped table it.
The first person to testify for the law was Brian Babione, an ally of McCoy's from the radical right wing legal lobby, the Alliance Defense Fund, which is now calling itself the Alliance Defending Freedom. Here's video of Babione's Unicameral testimony. Be sure to watch the portion at the 1:30 mark to see just what kind of organizations Beau McCoy is in bed with.