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For Alabama’s Only Gay Lawmaker, a Political Defeat Was Deeply Personal

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Minutes before Alabama lawmakers were set to vote on a bill criminalizing medical care for young transgender people who are transitioning, State Representative Neil Rafferty took to the floor of the House and pleaded with his colleagues to reconsider. “It’s hard enough growing up being different,” he said. “It’s even harder growing up being different and then have the state Legislature, your elected officials, the leaders of this state, put a target on children’s backs.” He ended his speech with a direct appeal: “I’m begging y’all, all right?” And then he acknowledged that his efforts were largely futile: “What’s going to happen is going to happen.

Just don’t you dare call me a friend after this.” Mr. Rafferty’s loss was swift and resounding. The House approved the legislation by a vote of 66-28.

On that same day in early April, the State Senate voted 26-5 for a bill mandating that K-12 students use only bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with the gender on their original birth certificate, rather than their current gender identity.

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