Council readies for gay rights ordinance
February 28th, 2012
Omaha, NE – Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray will introduce a proposal today to expand legal protections to Omahaâ€™s gay, lesbian and transgender community.
Omaha currently has no laws that protect people against discrimination based on sexual orientation. But there are protections based on race, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, age or disability. Grayâ€™s proposal would simply add sexual orientation and gender identity to that protected list.
â€œWeâ€™re talking about citizens who start businesses, who protect and serve our country, who serve on our police and fire and city government operations,â€ Gray said in an interview with KVNO News. â€œWeâ€™re talking about people who hire people; weâ€™re talking about people who provide and pay for goods and services, (who) provide resources to our economyâ€¦ So they should have the same rights as everyone else.â€
Gray introduced a similar proposal in 2010, but it deadlocked on a 3-3 vote. He said he wonâ€™t speculate on the odds the proposal will pass this time around. But he says some of the â€œlanguage issuesâ€ that stalled it before have been cleared up. In particular, heâ€™s added an exemption for religious organizations.
â€œSo I think the ordinance is clearer, and itâ€™s more definitive as to who, and how, theyâ€™re exempt, who is included, why theyâ€™re included and it encourages protection for the GLBT community,â€ Gray said.
Grayâ€™s ordinance recently got some scientific backing. The University of Nebraska Medical Center released a survey last week showing many gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people in the state do feel discriminated against.
Gray plans to re-introduce his ordinance at the City Council Tuesday. A public hearing is scheduled for March 6th. And if there are no delays, the councilâ€™s vote could come as early as March 13th.
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