Omaha City Council Narrowly Passes Anti-Discrimination Law

By a slim margin of 4 to 3, the Omaha City Council yesterday approved legislation that would provide anti-discrimination protections for gays and transgender residents, reports Reuters. A similar bill failed in 2011, but this time around council member Garry Gernandt changed his vote.

“It’s an important and big step for Omaha to take. Is it overdue? Sure. But Omaha usually isn’t in the forefront of these issues,” said Craig Moody of Voice Omaha, part of the Equal Omaha coalition that has championed the ordinance.

The haters weren’t happy, unsurprisingly: “It legislates morality in the public sphere. It says your private religious opinion is wrong when you operate in public,” Hannah Buell of the Nebraska Family Council told Reuters.

Yes, Ms. Buell, that’s exactly correct—you can’t force your personal religious beliefs on everyone else. At least that’s what your friends and neighbors think:  A survey of 1,000 Omahans found that residents favored the measure by a 2-to-1 margin.

And although churches are exempt from the law, church-run charities and other affiliated organizations are not.

Omaha resident John Carroll, who took notably U of Nebraska-Lincoln football coach Ron Brown to task for testifying against the bill, described the vote thusly:

The Herman Cain of Omaha, Franklin Thompson, babbled and waxed on incoherently then took some weird break as if he was looking up ‘gender identity’ on Wikipedia. Then [he] came back and tried to add an amendment to take gender identity out.

It did not get a second.

They then voted and he voted no, but a previous no turned into a yes and there you go.  Omaha has officially joined the ranks of those that embrace equality in the workplace.

Awesome possum! Congrats to John and all the fair-minded folks of Omaha.

Photo: Algy3289

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  • Andy

    Franklin Thompson is an education professor specializing in diversity issues at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. When asked how he could hold that position while at the same time not supporting the inclusion of gender identity, he stated that he does not bring his political views into the classroom when he teaches. Ridiculous.

    He is going down in the next election. It feels really good to live in a city that has finally joined the 21st century.

  • Christopher Banks

    We have human rights legislation in New Zealand which outlaws discrimination in employment, accommodation, healthcare – all kinds of services, on the basis of sex, race, sexual orientation, disability (which includes HIV status).

    This passing is great news, but the key will be how it works and how well it’s enforced. How easy is it for someone to complain should an incident arise? Does the law have teeth or will complainants be sent to a toothless mediation committee that re-traumatises them?

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