Tuesday, April 28, 2009


The Omaha World-Herald's dollars-and-cents approach to covering Iowa gay marriage seems to have excited those Omaha entrepreneurs itching to cash in on the gay wedding tourism made possible by Iowa's evenhandedness by enticing gay people heading to Iowa and marriage to spend lots of money in homophobic Nebraska.

Witness this from IOWAGAYWEDDING.NET (a Nebraska company): "Omaha allows you to have it all. Since there is a waiting period of three business days to obtain an Iowa marriage license, enjoy your time partaking of Omaha’s fine dining, shopping, arts and culture, recreation, leisure, and nightlife. When your marriage license is ready, Signature Ceremonies will perform your wedding and solemnize your marriage in Iowa. Then, celebrate the night away with your new spouse, family, and friends at one of Omaha’s many venues.

Yeah, spend $35 for the license in the equitable state that made it possible, then drop hundreds or thousands in a state whose current Attorney General, John Bruning, has compared gay marriage to a guy marrying a chair and whose governor, Dave Heineman, is a homophobic weasel who does his dirty work behind the scenes.

A bait-and-switch state with "Equality Before The Law" as its motto but the following in its constitution: "Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in Nebraska. The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship shall not be valid or recognized in Nebraska."


Really? Has the city issued any proclamations about gay marriage? Is there an anti-discrimination ordinance in Omaha? If a gay couple called the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, which sits on land occupied by the Hollywood, an 80's gay disco, and asked for information about local gay bars, would the Chamber give the caller the time of day?

The plain truth about Omaha and Nebraska is more likely to be found at an organization which tells it like it is: the Rainbow Outreach Metro Omaha GLBT Center (www.rainbowoutreach.org).

This, from the above website is a far more honest assessment of Omaha and Nebraska:

Omaha is the state's largest city and the heart of a riverine metropolis. It sits on the western bank of the Missouri River along the eastern edge of the state of Nebraska, across the water from neighboring Council Bluffs, Iowa. The Omaha metropolitan area is home to over 700,000 residents and supports an opera, a symphony, multiple universities and colleges, museums, art galleries, riverboat casinos, a world-class zoo with the largest indoor rain forest, the popular historic Old Market district (strongly tied to the GLBT-allied community), an abundance of high-quality theatre groups, over a half dozen GLBT bars and dance clubs, and dozens of GLBT organizations, including family groups, faith groups, social groups and more.

But the existence of several GLBT-allied organizations reflects on the commitment and resolve of the regional GLBT-allied community, and not on any progressiveness on the part of the City of Omaha or the State of Nebraska. Please note the Metro Omaha GLBT Center does not receive any governmental money from Iowa or Nebraska, and is completely funded through private donations and support from the GLBT-allied community.

In addition to eastern Nebraska, the Metro Omaha GLBT Center proudly serves the residents of western Iowa, including the communities of Council Bluffs (just across the Missouri River from Omaha) and Carter Lake (a region of Iowa on the same side of the river as Omaha because the Missouri River changed course years ago placing a slice of Iowa on the opposite shore from the rest of the state).

The Status of Council Bluffs, Carter Lake and Iowa
Iowa stands in sharp contrast to Nebraska. Iowa has an inclusive statewide Civil Rights Law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity, outlawing discrimination in public employment, private employment, housing, credit, education and public accommodations. Iowa has an inclusive Safe Schools Law to combat harassment and bullying which specifically includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Iowa provides domestic partner benefits to state workers, permits gay individuals and couples to be foster and adoptive parents, and has a law authorizing second parent adoptions which covers same-sex couples. It is interesting to note that Iowa is actually more rural than Nebraska (more Iowans live in small towns - the biggest city in Iowa is Des Moines, the capital which has under 200,000 residents compared to Omaha which has 400,000 not including its metropolis.)

The Status of Omaha and Nebraska
The GLBT-allied community contributes immensely to the well being and prosperity of Omaha, including the development of its popular, historic Old Market district. Omaha however does not reciprocate in kind. The city does not protect the human rights of residents and visitors, providing no protection from discrimination based on real or perceived sexual orientation in housing, private employment, and public accommodations, unlike the cities in neighboring metro areas outside Nebraska including Denver, Colorado; Kansas City, Missouri; and Des Moines, Iowa, which do provide such human rights protection to residents and visitors.

The State of Nebraska has no civil rights law offering protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, credit, private employment, public employment, education, or public accommodations. The State of Nebraska has an anti-democracy, anti-family, anti-human rights constitutional amendment violating Equal Protection Under Law, the foundation of democracy and human rights (hypocritically, the State motto is Equality Before the Law). The amendment, installed by majoritarianism, says the State will not recognize any relationship at all between same-sex couples (marriage, civil union, domestic partnership, etc). This prevents the legislature from enacting the most basic human rights protection for gay family members such as hospital visitation, burial rights, and so forth, and calls into question the validity of all out-of-state adoptions, contracts, etc. In this regard, Nebraska falls behind many third world nations by not meeting the basics of democracy and human rights. Nebraska bans gay individuals and couples from adopting or being foster parents.

To try to help counteract the anti-business, anti-family, anti-human rights environment in Omaha and in Nebraska, the most successful employers in Metro Omaha do have non-discrimination policies covering sexual orientation, including First Data Resources (FDR), Paypal (a branch of eBay), Wal-Mart, Cox Communications, Target, Union Pacific, ConAgra, and Qwest. Some companies also offer domestic partner benefits to help counteract the anti-human rights amendment added to the Nebraska State Constitution.

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