Wednesday, January 18, 2012

NE state senator Beau McCoy introduces Tennessee-style law attacking gay rights ordinances throughout Nebraska; would block 2nd attempt at one in Omaha

Update: Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, other prominent Omaha musicians sign open letter calling LB912 "deplorable and unacceptable."
     Peter Ricketts, billionaire TD Ameritrade family scion, was Beau McCoy's largest 2008 contributor, which should make for some interesting holiday dinner table talk between Ricketts and his gay sister.

     McCoy's Democratic opponent for the 39th district is Judy Domina, a longtime resident of Elkhorn.
     A previous headline said McCoy's proposal would void a Lincoln gay rights ordinance. That was wrong. One was proposed, but defeated by voters in May of 1982.

Juan Perez, Jr., of the Omaha World-Herald reports that as Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray tries again to introduce a gay rights ordinance in Omaha, a state senator from that city, Beau McCoy, has introduced legislation (LB912, which is functionally identical to legislation enacted in Tennessee earlier this year) nullifying gay rights ordinances throughout Nebraska and prohibiting their future enactment. McCoy even uses the same excuse employed by bigots in Tennessee, saying such encroachment by the state on the freedom of cities to enact their own antidiscrimination legislation is called for by the need for "uniformity."

Beau McCoy, president of Nebraska Roof
Savers and author of law to revoke and
ban local gay rights ordinances throughout
Nebraska. McCoy ()
represents Dist. 39, including parts of
Omaha. His Democratic opponent is
Judy Domina.
McCoy's proposed bill would amend state law to prohibit local governments from creating new classes of residents protected from discrimination.
"It just merely says that if we're going to change the protected classes ... we need to come to the Capitol to do it so that it's consistent across the state," McCoy said. "If it's the right thing to do, it ought to be the right thing to do border-to-border, not just in one city or municipality."
     McCoy refused to say whether he'd support a "uniform" statewide proposal to include gay people as a protected class.
     Councilman Ben Gray will soon reintroduce an antidiscrimination ordinance which failed in 2010 on a 3-3 council vote. (Ben Gray, Pete Festersen and Chris Jerram voted in favor; "Mean" Jean Stothert, Garry Gernandt and Thomas Mulligan were opposed.) Councilman Franklin Thompson called for a referendum and refused to vote. (Last summer the Human Rights Campaign released a poll during its bus tour (which included stops in Lincoln and Omaha)  revealing that a majority of Omahans favored passing an ordinance that would prohibit firing people because of their sexual orientation.)

Knee-jerk homophobe Perkins, of
Omaha's Pilgrim Baptist Church, who
opposed a gay rights law in Omaha
by saying "I find it offensive that we
would equate this with civil rights.
Those rights were based upon a
person's color of their skin,
which they could not change."
The measure was shot down with the help of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce's executive committee, antigay churches, especially Pilgrim Baptist Church, home of heterosexual supremacist Cedric Perkins, and right-wing Christian policy organizations.

When the Omaha Chamber of Commerce opposed the antidiscrimination ordinance in 2010, it said the law would impose "ambiguous and unclear" regulations and would be "difficult" for businesses to implement, saying such concerns were best approved at the state or federal level. The World-Herald said the Chamber would not elaborate on those arguments this week, citing the lack of final language for the latest proposal.

LB912 includes the following language:
Sec. 3. (1) It is the purpose of this section to improve
intrastate commerce by ensuring that no county, municipality, or
other political subdivision will subject businesses, organizations,
or employers operating in Nebraska to varied and nonuniform protected
classifications in nondiscrimination laws, ordinances, resolutions,
rules, or policies. Further, it is the purpose of this section to
focus and thereby improve the effectiveness of the efforts of
counties, municipalities, or other political subdivisions to punish
and eliminate discrimination based on the protected classifications
identified in laws enacted by the Legislature.
(2) A county, municipality, or other political
subdivision shall not adopt or enforce a local law, ordinance,
resolution, rule, or policy that creates a protected classification
unless such classification is contained in the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act, the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act, the
Nebraska Fair Housing Act, or sections 20-126 to 20-143 or 48-1219 to
48-1227. This subsection does not apply to a law, ordinance,
resolution, rule, or policy that applies only to the employees of the
county, municipality, or other political subdivision.
(3) Any local law, ordinance, resolution, rule, or policy
adopted before the effective date of this act that violates
subsection (2) of this section is null and void.

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