Omaha, Nebraska has narrowly rejected a proposed LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance and the City Council will consider bringing the issue to a public vote, reports the World Herald.
"After nearly five hours of discussion, the ordinance failed on a 3-3 vote. Councilmen Ben Gray, Pete Festersen and Chris Jerram voted in favor; Jean Stothert, Garry Gernandt and Thomas Mulligan were opposed. Councilman Franklin Thompson, who has called for a public vote on the issue, abstained. ... Gray, author of the ordinance, proposed that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people be a protected class under city code protection they don't currently have under state or federal law. The change would have affected Omaha employers. Gray had amended the proposal to exclude religious organizations.The council held a packed public hearing Tuesday on a separate proposal introduced by Thompson to put the issue to a public vote in the form of an amendment to the City Charter. The vote on Thompson's measure is expected next week. ... Gay rights advocates... said a public vote would likely cause more problems. They said it was unfair to put a civil rights issue to a popular vote."
"Next week council members will vote on whether they want to add the issue to the ballot for the public to decide," reports CBS3. "The issue could also be pulled off the table entirely."
Councilman Ben Gray, a newly-elected councilmember, veteran broadcaster and civil rights advocate, proposed the ordinance a month ago, "hoping it would give gays and lesbians equal protection at work."
Omaha becomes the second major city in recent months to have a Black city council member propose a gay and/or trans inclusive non-discrimination ordinance. In July, Councilwoman Janis Fullilove received at least four death threats after sponsoring a similar bill in Memphis, Tennessee. That bill was later withdrawn due to non-support. Yet more reasons why we desperately need the Employment Non-Discrimination Act ...