NE Attorney General: Adding Orientation To State Discrimination Laws Is Unconstitutional

Sorry fair-minded Nebraskans: You can add whatever protections for LGBT you want to your town charters, but they have no weight. That was the message in an recent opinion issued by Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning.

“Nebraska statutes do not authorize political subdivisions in Nebraska, including municipalities, to expand protected classifications beyond the scope of the civil rights classifications created in state statute.”

Bruning, who is running for Senate, was weighing in on a bill proposed by state Sen. Beau McCoy (R-Omaha) that would have barred municipalities from adopting anti-discrimination ordinances that are beyond what the state covers. McCoy’s bill—aimed at Omaha’s recent gay-rights law—never made it out of committee. But the Senator is tickled pink by Bruning’s support:

“t not only backs up and supports what I have said for almost eight months now, but it probably goes further in outlining why civil rights and discrimination measures are state issues.”

Paul Kratz—the city attorney for Omaha, which recently banned discrimination against gay people by employers, public accommodations and businesses that contract with the city—says Bruning’s ruling won’t change anything.

“If somebody sues us, we’ll deal with it in court.”

Source: Miami Herald

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  • Hyhybt

    Why, if it’s not prohibited, would it have to be explicitly allowed? (Other than that it’s a convenient excuse, of course.)

  • Daez

    @Hyhybt: Because violations of the anti-discrimination laws are not left at the local level. At the very least, the cases go to the state level where the state law trumps the local law. Meaning, you can add as many protections as you want to the local legislation, but since none of it means anything at the state level, you have no recourse when that legislation is violated.

  • No-Obot

    @Daez: No, not really. If the anti-discrimination law which is being violated is a misdemeanor, then it is none of the state’s business. That is, unless the state can prove that the state constitutional rights of the accused are being violated when they discriminated against another citizen.

    Example: Let’s just say that one state has no policy about feeding squirrels in state parks, but a local city ordinance makes it a misdemeanor. If a particular resident violates that ordinance — which not in violation of the state law — that ordinance is still enforceable in city municipal court. The local county is not even evolved if the infraction is left as a misdemeanor. Many city ordinance against anti-gay discrimination are misdemeanors — which may only carry a small fine. A lot of it is just window dressing. Federally protected minorities have the big hammer of the Federal Government, besides local and state laws, to protect them.

    The GLBT community generally gets less protection than abused pets or overfed city park squirrels if you only rely on city ordinances and not state protection. Certainly, we have seen no movement on federal protections since Obama’s been in office — and not even when he and the Democrats had super majorities in Congress for his first two years. I guess we don’t matter much unless it is an election year; then we just get more hollow promises to fool us for another four years.

  • Hyhybt

    @Daez: Zoning ordinances are local, yet they are enforceable.

  • B

    No. 4 · Hyhybt wrote, “@Daez: Zoning ordinances are local, yet they are enforceable.”

    Using California as an example, Section 65850 of the California Government Code authorizes counties and cities to adopt zoning ordinances, stating what they may regulate. Other states have similar laws.

  • Hyhybt

    @B: Thank you; I’ll throw that in the “something new every day” box.

Comments are closed.