Thursday, April 17, 2014

Even more evidence of cronyism, corruption and coercion in Bradstad administration

From Jason Clayworth at the Des Moines Register:
Top staffers of Gov. Terry Branstad pressured the state's employment board to hire a longtime friend of the administration as an administrative law judge in an attempt to stack the deck against public employee complaints, the chairman of the board told The Des Moines Register this week.
     Iowa Public Employment Relations Board Chairman Jim Riordan said Branstad's former chief of staff, Jeff Boeyink, and current staff attorney, Brenna Findley, threatened to cut the office's budget if its three board members failed to comply with their demand.
     To keep the office on stable financial ground, the board hired Robert D. Wilson, a former Polk County district judge, Riordan said.
     Riordan's statements marked the second time in less than a month that the Branstad administration has been accused of interfering with the workings of the state's judiciary system...

Billy Eichner picks the wrong guest to yell at

The segment, featuring Joel McHale competing by himself in the 2014 Mo-Limpics, quickly degenerates into a queer-baiting, insult-swapping screaming match, so what's not to like? Via Towleroad.

New postal service stamps depict drawings of gay bondage porn, at long last

That's the good news (Thank you, Gawker, et al.)
     The bad news is that Finland's post office has issued them and they're self-adhesive (contrary to a BBC report) so you really don't have any credible excuse to lick them.
     These are suitable for posting letters from Finland to anywhere in the world, but most especially to Saudi Arabia, Beau McCoy, Mississippi, Brunei, Jon Bruning, Oklahoma, Russia, Nigeria, Uganda and Franklin Graham.
     You also can buy Tom of Finland cross-stitching kits and soon you will be able to see Tom, The Movie.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

After 5 years of marriage equality, more Iowans say they're proud of their state than disappointed

Radio Iowa reports on an Iowa poll on gay marriage taken by Selzer and Company revealing a sea change in attitude:
 “We found the plurality of Iowans say ‘it doesn’t really matter to me, it’s not my issue.’ And more say they’re proud than say they’re disappointed,” Selzer said.
     The piece included Rob Gilmer and his husband Rene Orduna who left neighboring Nebraska, moving their popular restaurant, Dixie Quicks (tell them AKSARBENT sent you) — and themselves — from Omaha, across the Missouri River to Council Bluffs, Iowa.
     Also interviewed were Kate Varnum — the "Varnum" in "Varnum vs. Brien," the now-famous case brought to the Iowa Supreme Court in 2009 which unanimously decided that gay couples were denied equal protection. Varnum subsequently married her girlfriend, Trish, with whom she is raising an adopted two-and-a-half-year-old son in Cedar Rapids.

Dixie Quicks: Nebraska's loss, Iowa's gain

Omaha's not-so-progressive mayor, Jean Stothert (back when she was on the city council voting against an LGBT anti-bias ordinance), displays the very attitude that caused the owners of Dixie Quicks to leave her city and state:

Onlookers cheer arrest of professional homophobe, Peter LaBarbera, charged with mischief at U. of Regina after being told to leave

Even though Canada's hate speech laws must have been explained to him during his brief border detention and (by virtue of that detention) he must have known that he would be watched closely, LaBarbera still made sure he was arrested, even sporting a tee-shirt silk-screened in advance, portraying himself as a victim.

From the CBC:
     ...Before their arrival, the university issued a news release saying the pair would be monitored to ensure they did not engage in any activity that would promote hatred.
     At one point, with news cameras rolling, an unidentified university official approached Whatcott, 46, and LaBarbera, 51, and asked them to leave. During that encounter, Whatcott said he had attempted to get permission to set up an information table and, since he was denied, proceeded to set up a table anyway.
     ..."I'm not leaving," Whatcott told the official, "You guys are intolerant and should be ashamed of yourselves for shutting down our message without even considering it."
     A short while later, several Regina police officers arrived and Whatcott and LaBarbera were handcuffed and taken off campus.
     University officials defended their decision to call police.
     "We are a diverse campus, we are a welcoming campus," Tom Chase, one of the vice presidents of the university said. "We celebrate that diversity and our staff felt that the material and some of the things they had with them simply contravened that policy and we asked them to leave."
Bill Whatcott is a well-known Canadian anti-abortion, anti-gay activist who, in his youth, prostituted himself to other males and who once defecated on a document before sending it to Canada's Governor General.

Collabro: What makes you think that after a month [together] you're good enough to win Britain's Got Talent?

It's always good when people underestimate you. Skip to 1:36 if you're pressed for time. From Towleroad.

Six Nebraskans from Astroturf group Americans For Prosperity sign open letter complaining about another Astroturf group, Freedomworks, bankrolling Ben Sasse

How much ultra-right wing hypocrisy can you stand?
     A group including members of the Nebraska chapter of the notorious Koch Bros.-funded front organization, Americans for Prosperity, are mad that another Tea Party Astroturf group, Freedomworks, founded by Dick Armey*, has raised a huge amount of money in D.C. to bankroll Ben Sasse's Senate run. Part of their indignant sputtering:
We are not million dollar Washington DC special interest groups with strong ties to Capitol Hill.
     No, you're extremists working for a different fake grassroots special interest group funded by the politically carpet-bagging billionaire Koch Brothers — of Kansas, not Nebraska.
     Below: Sasse's anti-Washington special intersts ad, bought and paid for by conservative D.C. PACs, lobbyists and special interests. This is 100%, straight-up, unadulterated bullshit evidently aimed at voters whose intelligence Sasse and his backers surely must regard with limitless contempt.

*In 1995 Armey referred to openly homosexual Congressman Barney Frank as "Barney Fag". Armey said it was a slip of the tongue. Frank did not accept Armey's explanation, saying, "I turned to my own expert, my mother, who reports that in 59 years of marriage, no one ever introduced her as Elsie Fag."

Monday, April 14, 2014

Field near Neligh, in pipeline path, sports a #NOKXL hashtag

Not everyone who will never vote for Hillary Clinton is a tea partier; some people resent her State Department's collusion with a foreign oil company threatening the land of midwestern farmers and ranchers via eminent domain condemnation papers even without a pipeline permit in hand.
     The Keystone XL pipeline, according to the Omaha World-Herald, will not have state-of-the-art leak detection systems to safeguard the largest underground fresh water aquifer in North America, which in large part makes Nebraska's $20,000,000,000 ag industry possible.
     Look at the center-pivot irrigation circles in the photo and consider where the water for that comes from.
     So far, that water has stayed pure enough that people and cattle can drink it straight from the well.
      But after TransCanada gets through with it, who knows?

Open-pit tar sands moonscape in Alberta
From Rainforest Action Network:

Tar sands oil is the worst type of oil for the climate, producing three times the greenhouse gas emissions of conventionally produced oil because of the energy required to extract and process tar sands oil. Tar sands consist of heavy crude oil mixed with sand, clay and bitumen. Extraction entails burning natural gas to generate enough heat and steam to melt the oil out of the sand. As many as five barrels of water are needed to produce a single barrel of oil.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Video: NE football coach takes cat with him to spring scrimmage; a Lion King moment in front of crowd

Nebraska head football coach Bo Pelini is the subject of a very funny twitter parody, Faux Pelini, which depicts him as a cat fancier, among other things.
     He has tried to ignore the account and its snark (samples here and here) but @fauxPelini now has a stadium's worth of followers, so Coach decided to have some fun with his alter ego during Saturday's spring scrimmage. (Check out attendance in video of the stands, shot in football-mad Lincoln, and remember: this isn't even a real game.)
     The cat, that Pelini held aloft a la The Lion King, isn't his.
     More from SportsCenter, which had its own fun with the event:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

7.9 magnitude earthquake hits Solomon Islands; tsunami warning issued for Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea

The Solomon Islands, independent from Great Britain since 1976, cover a land area the size of Massachussetts. The capital, Honiara, is on the island of Guadalcanal, scene of fierce WWII fighting.
     U.S. Geological Survey reported that the earthquake struck at about 7:15 am, tomorrow, April 13th about 62 miles southeast of Kirakira at a depth of 18.2 miles. (The nation is on the other wide of the International Date Line)

Ad promoting civil unions debuts in Peru

Interesting that no gay couples are depicted. Regardless, hope it persuades. AKSARBENT has no idea what the announcer is saying. Via @blabeando.

Silent LGBTs at their school offended Christian haters, so they wore antigay t-shirts. Religious freedom, baby!

Canada briefly stiff-arms entry of U.S. LGBT hate promoter, Peter LaBarbera

LaBarbera has been busy nailing himself to the cross at the border station but in fact it was a group of Canadians who petitioned the government to keep him out. A professor who has examined LaBarbera's inflammatory rhetoric says that because he deliberately, repeatedly and falsely equates homosexuality with pedophilia, his actions do fit the government's definition of hate propaganda.
     Video via JMG, who has dubbed LaBarbera "Porno Pete" because of his penchant for "exposing" various gay sex fetish gatherings by personally (and unecessarily) attending them, camera at the ready, despite the fact that such affairs are usually enthusiastically documented by exhibitionist participants on Flickr, Picassa, Instagram and Twitter.

Practical homosexuality: a gay boxing club in New York

Photo: Martin Fitzpatrick
Vance Garrett and Francisco Liuzzi have started a boxing club for gay men in New York City, because:
"Every man needs to learn how to throw a jab, hook and uppercut, even if he never uses them."
This is probably a very good idea. As the Boy Scouts say, "Be prepared."

Bloomberg: NSA knew about Heartbleed OpenSSL security breach for two years, quietly exploited it, but said, did nothing to protect U.S. Internet security

(Via JoeMyGod)

From Bloomberg:
     The Heartbleed flaw, introduced in early 2012 in a minor adjustment to the OpenSSL protocol, highlights one of the failings of open source software development.
     While many Internet companies rely on the free code, its integrity depends on a small number of underfunded researchers who devote their energies to the projects.
     In contrast, the NSA has more than 1,000 experts devoted to ferreting out such flaws using sophisticated analysis techniques, many of them classified. The agency found Heartbleed shortly after its introduction, according to one of the people familiar with the matter, and it became a basic part of the agency’s toolkit or stealing account passwords and other common tasks.

From Mashable:
...By not alerting anyone to the bug, the NSA could have left the door open for other intelligence agencies across the world to exploit Heartbleed, provided they found the bug. This revelation also seems to contradict one of the NSA's core missions, which is protecting and defending American cybersecurity.
     "Given the scale of Heartbleed, deciding to exploit this vulnerability rather than fix it, makes a mockery of any claims that the NSA defends the networks of the U.S.A.," an employee on the security team of a major Internet company, who asked not to be named, told Mashable...
     "Utterly, indefensibly shameful," tweeted Kevin Bankston, the New America Foundation Policy Director. "Way to be evil, guys."
     Matthew Prince, the CEO of security firm Cloudflare, tweeted that it's "hard as a tech company today to not feel like we're at war with our own government."

IA Gov. and spiritual leader Terry Branstad's proclamation invites Iowans to humbly repent according to Christian Bible

His Eminence, Terry Edward Branstad, who stoops to rule
Iowa with loving, if partisan discipline and a heart as pure
as the driven slush
Via GoodAsYou comes the just-issued proclamation (below; click to view or enlarge as a jpeg) which specifically recommends the Christian guidance of II Chronicles 7:14 available to all Iowans be they Atheist, Agnostic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Rastafarian, Pastafarian, etc.
     AKSARBENT wonders what kind of GOP repentence the very spiritual Branstad will himself offer for soaking Iowa taxpayers for $370,599 (and counting) on a defamation, harassment, sexual discrimination and extortion lawsuit filed after he forced a gay worker's compensation commissioner to resign.
     Or for retaliating against a state trooper who stopped the state-issued SUV in which he and his Lieutenant Governor, Kim Reynolds, had been tearing down Iowa Highway 20 at 90 mph last April.
     Or for being pulled over again for ignoring Iowa speeding laws in Franklin County four months later.
     Or for vacationing in sunny Arizona while letting Lt. Gov. Reynolds pretend she had no idea that $280,000 in secret severance payments were made to Democratic Iowa state employees the Branstad administration wanted to get rid of in order to hire GOP cronies.
     Or that such severance payments were accompanied by tightly-worded confidentiality clauses as well as further inducements amounting to thousands of dollars each to at least two employees to sign additional agreements mandating secrecy, all of which caused Carol Frank, a former construction and design engineer who was laid off in September 2011, to liken the Branstad administration to “a group of renegades,” adding, “They just didn’t care about anyone else or about rules or law. They were just hiring their friends.”
     II Chronicles 7:14 says: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
     AKSARENT humbly recommends that Brandstad also open up a can of Luke 4:23 containing the famous exhortation "Physician, heal thyself."

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Guardian: Country music stars still kicking down the closet door

Believe it or not, Lavender Country's 1973, in-your-face, first (and only) album, which includes the astonishing Crying These Cocksucking Tears, was, after its 2000 re-release, ensconced in the Country Music Hall of Fame because of its historic value.
     The aforementioned cut from the album cost a DJ her license when she played it (sample verse: "I'm fighting for when there won't be no straight men.")
     In its piece, The Guardian quoted Chely Wright, who:
...believes the notion of Nashville as a deeply conservative town is simplistic. "People in the industry – studios, labels, radio programmers – are generally open and understanding," she says, "but the fanbase is a different thing." Attending a country concert recently, she looked around and decided it would be unwise to hold hands with her wife Lauren. "I wouldn't call the industry homophobic, but they're afraid of the fear lots of fans have about gay people. So they package us as straight, and we let them." Why? "Because we all want to be part of the big game."
Below: Jerry Jeff Walker (real name: Ronald Clyde Crosby), who is straight, cheerfully slides the apparent subtext of Jaded Lover under the gaydar of a television audience in the early 90s.
I can see you are an angel, whose wings just won't unfold...
Goodbye you jaded lover, you undercover queen for a day...
Well, keep sittin' on it darlin'...

Canada's Get Real makes a fraternity/sorority anti-homophobic video

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Former WY senator Alan Simpson's marriage equality ad to be shown nationally, locally

From Politico:
The six-figure buy, sponsored by the pro-gay marriage group Freedom to Marry, is slated to start airing on Tuesday on national cable channels, as well as locally in Wyoming, Oklahoma and Colorado.

Sen. Danielle Conrad's answer to Beau McCoy's "religious freedom" objection during his filibuster of LB485, bill to extend antibias job protection to LGBTs

From the World-Herald:

...The Nebraska Catholic Conference and Nebraska Family Alliance still oppose the measure. Jim Cunningham of the Nebraska Catholic Conference said the exemptions would not help employers who are not part of religious organizations or schools but who have religious objections to homosexuality.
     Similar laws have been used to punish businesses that assert religious freedom, McCoy said.
     Conrad countered that the First Amendment right of religious freedom applies to individuals, not businesses.
     “Is it his assertion that a Taco Bell or a car dealership has a religion?” she asked.
     Jim Cunningham once argued that psychologists, therapists and other licensed counselors should be able to refuse to treat gay clients because of religious or moral convictions and not have to refer them to another therapist. 

UNL's social media campaign taken in-house after complaints about $40,000 spent on Lincoln marketing firm

AKSARBENT thinks the money NU gave Archrival to increase its social media profile (and Chancellor Perlman's cult of personality) was well spent, considering the newer, lamer videos. If the stack of papers in front of Buffett puzzles you, the explanation is here.

Homophobic TX wingnut, Louis Gohmert, accuses AG Eric Holder of casting aspersions on his asparagus

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Huckabee to Iowa Christer confab: 'I’m not a hater. I’m not homophobic'

Because addressing the so-called "Faith & Freedom Coalition" to trash LGBTs after likening homosexuality to polygamy and incest is NOT homophobic. Because complaining about the amount of money spent on AIDS research and calling for a quarantine of the people most affected by it isn't homophobic. Because calling same sex marriage a threat to "stable society" isn't homophobic. Because comparing legalizing same sex marriage to legalizing drug abuse isn't homophobic. Here are five more of Mike Huckabee's shameless (but not homophobic!) lies about LGBTs.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

'My gay neighbors can take out my trash and mind my mail when I'm gone, but they don't deserve equality in employment rights'

Here's an excerpt from Objective Conservative's condescending guest rationale (by one "Ted Quick") for denying gay Nebraskans the same protected status in employment (via failed LB485) that other minorities enjoy:

     This bill must be defeated...
     I have nothing against the gay and lesbian community.   My next door neighbors are two of the finest guys you'd ever run into.  They are kind, generous and we watch each other's' homes when we travel.  They have the codes to my house.  They take my garbage can out when I'm gone and take the mail into my house when the box becomes full.  I couldn't ask for better friends or neighbors.  I also have some great lesbian friends who live a few houses away from me.  But now each of them is being forced, by virtue of them being different, into another ridiculous movement.   They are being separated from the rest of us. 
     Many of us are sick and tired of having the LGBT "movement" jammed down our throats...

     AKSARBENT thinks maybe Mr. Quick's gay neighbors deserve better "friends."
     One wonders if they know their lovely neighbor contributes to a blog which describes them in words favored by gutter bigots:

We know our liberal detractors are saying that we are saying the sky is falling.   Well, we think it is or certainly will when it comes to creating special classes for gays, lesbians, transgenders, cross-dressers, aka., queers and perverts..." 

Outstanding Public Service Commissioner, retiring Anne Boyle, recommends a successor

Anne Boyle, Crystal Rhoades

For 17 years, Anne Boyle worked tirelessly on the Public Service Commission. Her indefatigable, incorruptible and aggressive representation of ratepayers was a credit not just to her district but the entire state.
     Now she has endorsed a successor, so for your own good, pay attention, ratepayers, to the letter from Anne and her husband, Mike:
     As you know, our world has changed dramatically since passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. It is important that the next commissioner is dedicated and a proven leader. Crystal has demonstrated that in her work and as a candidate for the Public Service Commission.
     As a candidate, Crystal has spent a great deal of time visiting with Nebraska carriers and has become well informed regarding not only telecommunications but also the other departments we oversee.
     There are two other candidates in the primary election; however, without any reservations, we sincerely believe Crystal Rhoades is the best candidate to represent you. We would not ask for your support for any other reason. We hope you will support her with your vote.
     Thank you for your thoughtful consideration. It has been a privilege to serve you.

Billy Eichner: For a dollar, would you have sex with Paul Rudd?

(Via Towleroad)

Billy Eichner: (at the 2:11 mark) "Sir, for a dollar, do you wanna have sex with Paul Rudd? He's right here."
Australian man: Five dollars.
Billy Eichner: No.
Australian man: Two?
Billy Eichner: No
Australian man: I can't do it for one.
Billy Eichner: Excuse me. [to Australian] Get outta here. [to Paul Rudd] You don't need that gay crap. If you're going to have sex with a gay person, go Jim Parsons or go home.

AKSARBENT note: Paul Rudd, though adorable, is not gay. AKSARBENT knows this to be a fact because we once read a post in a forum by a gay plumber who worked on Rudd's bathroom back when Rudd was single and said plumber said Rudds bathroom was absolutely not the bathroom of a gay man.

Failed cloture vote to end discussion means LB485, Unicameral LGBT antibias bill, is dead this session; Sens. Beau McCoy and Mark Christensen introduced
22 amendments during their filibuster

Senators Mark Christensen (left) and Beau McCoy, architects of LB485's defeat
Above: the 22 senators who voted against a cloture vote to end discussion
(and a filibuster) against LB485, a bill to extend bias protection in the
workplace to LGBT Nebraskans
After eight hours of debate over three two days, supporters of Danielle Conrad's bill to outlaw anti-LGBT bias in employment in Nebraska lost, 26-22 (with 33 votes needed), a cloture vote to end a filibuster on the measure.
     That filibuster was led by the two Unicameral senators proven most reliably antagonistic to the legitimate aspirations of LGBT Nebraskans, Imperial Senator Mark Christensen and Elkhorn Senator Beau McCoy, author of a failed 2012 measure, LB912, to outlaw all municipal ordinances in Nebraska which bestowed protected-class status on LGBTs.
    McCoy is currently running for governor in a GOP primary field crowded by five other candidates
     Together the two heaped 22 amendments, including one kill measure proposed by McCoy, on LB455 during the filibuster they led.
     The cloture vote means the measure is almost certainly dead for now, as the legislature is unlikely to return to consideration of the bill with four days left in this year's session.
      "I think it’s unfortunate that the senators in the state are taking the time and energy to basically block discussion on something that’s a really important matter for Nebraskans,” said Pat Tetreault, director of the LGBTQA Resource Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
     Tetreault was one of several members of the LGBT community gathered at the Nebraska State Capitol to show support for LB485 on Monday. She said many people don’t realize that unless discrimination is prohibited, it isn’t illegal.

    “Currently, the current state of Nebraska condones and supports discrimination, which is why it is so challenging trying to get a bill passed,” she said.
     In 2012, the Lincoln City Council voted 5-0 to pass a city ordinance comparable to one in Omaha that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. However, opponents of the ordinance received enough signatures on a petition that would either require repeal by the city council or require citizens to vote.
     The council never acted in the matter.

     Not having this kind of legal protection for gay and lesbian citizens is placing our community under scrutiny and puts Lincoln and surrounding areas at a disadvantage,” said Carl Eskridge, a member of the Lincoln City Council, at a 12:30 p.m. press conference in the Capitol Rotunda before the vote to end debate failed. “We want the sign on Lincoln’s front door to be open. In short, the sign on Lincoln’s door cannot say ‘open for business, but with exceptions.’”
The bill's sponsor, Danielle Conrad, pointed out that 20 states and 180 communities already have approved measures similar to LB485, and that most Nebraskans support the bill. (Beau McCoy of Elkhorn, recently annexed by Omaha, claimed his mail was 95% against LB485.)
     “In the workplace, people should be judged on merit, qualifications and performance,” Conrad said. “It’s time for Nebraska to move forward and send a message across this country that we’re open for business to all who are willing to work hard and play by the rules.”
     Omaha Sen. Beau McCoy [as responsible as any for the defeat of the bill] said it would "force employers to tolerate lifestyles that their religions condemn."
     “Our state government should not be in charge of telling small business owners who have religious objections to check their religious faith at the door of their homes when they leave for work in the morning,” he said.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Live now: debate on LGBT rights law in Nebraska State Capitol

Debate resumes at 1:30 pm Central Time. Horse racing, then back to LB485. Hash Tag: #LB485

Debate concluded Monday evening. A cloture vote failed and the bill almost certainly will not be revisited this session.

'Boys Town' star Mickey Rooney dead at 93 in North Hollywood; 5'3" actor was biggest male movie actor on earth for several years

     Police aren't releasing a cause of death but said Rooney's demise was not suspicious.
     The 5'3" star was, in the late 1930s and early 40s, the top male box office draw on the planet.
    He made 15 Andy Hardy movies in which MGM tried to depict a model family, if your idea of a model family includes a son who looks like he's always on amphetamines. And, given MGM's pliable studio doctors at the time, maybe he was.
   A few Andy Hardys were done with Judy Garland, and gave rise to the much-parodied "Let's Put On A Show" plot. Here he is in Boys Town (below) with Spencer Tracy, about the famous Omaha orphanage for boys (and now girls.)
     The signature line from the movie, "He ain't heavy, he's my brother" was made into a statue and a hit song decades later.

LB485: anti-LGBT filibusterers explain their motives in opposing NE bill to outlaw employment bias against LGBTs

Excerpts from Deena Winters' excellent Nebraska Watchdog report on last Thursday's debate and filibuster over LB485. It's the most comprehensive account AKSARBENT has seen so far of the proceedings. Click the link and read the whole thing.
     ...64 percent support the bill. According to a memo provided by her [sponsor Danielle Conrad] office, the Anzalone Liszt Grove Research conducted a statewide survey of 600 likely voters by telephone in January. The poll was paid for by a coalition of supporters of the bill, including Equal Nebraska and Human Rights Campaign.
     ...The bill – which will be Conrad’s last as a lawmaker – was passionately supported by Omaha Sen. Brad Ashford, who got choked up while recalling how his mother “kicked me out of bed and said, ‘Now you get down there and you fight for LB485.’
     ...Sen. Mark Christensen, R-Imperial, admitted he was launching a filibuster, saying his constituents oppose the bill.
     “Christ tells us to love the person but hate the sin,” Christensen said. “He didn’t tell us to love the person, love the sin.”
     He said he didn’t want to get into an ugly debate over the issue, and then quoted from a study of identical twins that concluded homosexuality is not genetic but can be caused by “non-sharing events” or exposure to pornography, sexual abuse and common environmental factors.
Conrad said all major medical associations reject that point of view, and warned those watching the debate they “may hear a lot of hate” and “junk science” but assured them “that will be nothing more than a dark footnote in a chapter on our civil rights.”
     ...Sen. Bill Avery, D-Lincoln, said 95 percent of the emails he’s received on the bill have been supportive.
     Sen. Ernie Chambers, I-Omaha, who has introduced similar bills over his 40-plus-year career, accused opponents of the bill of “hiding behind religion.”
     “These are people, and that ends the discussion,” he said.
     Sen. Beau McCoy, R-Omaha, said all the lawmakers are opposed to discrimination and “believe in loving our fellow man,” but the bill would force Nebraskans to violate tenets of their faith.
     “Similar laws have been used not as a shield against discrimination, but a sword to punish business owners and people of faith,” he said, noting that when Conrad first introduced the bill in committee last year, she said businesses don’t have the same rights as individuals.
     “That troubles me a great deal and I dare say it would trouble an awful lot of Nebraskans to hear that,” McCoy said.
     But Conrad defended the premise, saying a Taco Bell doesn’t have the same standing as an individual. She said Nebraska can offer as many tax incentives as possible, but will never “attract a big fish like Facebook or Google” if it’s not inclusive.
     ...Sen. Jim Smith, R-Papillion, said while he appreciates Conrad’s compassion and the spirit in which she brought the bill, he opposes the bill because it would be another burden on businesses.
      He said most businesses with 15 to 100 employees don’t have a human resources department and will have to spend more money on legal counsel.
     But Sen. Burke Harr, D-Omaha, an attorney, said if it’s a burden not to discriminate,
“that’s a burden we should be willing to take,” noting that “not one person has been sued” since Omaha passed its ban.

     “This is good business,” he said. “Society is changing. You can fight it, but you’re on the wrong side.”
     Sen. Bill Kintner, R-Papillion, accused supporters of the bill of trying to shame people who support religious freedom.
     “If you’re a Christian bookstore, you want people that reflect your Christian values,” he said.
     He also questioned how people would know someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity and called the bill “an attorney’s dream” that might dissuade people from expanding their businesses to more than 15 employees.
     Conrad, an attorney, offered Kintner “a little free legal advice” –  “Don’t fire someone just because they’re gay.”