Monday, February 20, 2012

Omaha World-Herald endorses Ben Gray's LGBT Equal Employment Ordinance AND slams LB912!
Paper reminds readers that it's 2012

Not-from-Omaha twins Saul and Nathan demonstrate for gay
marriage elsewhere; quite a discussion about these two here.
Even the right-wing, business-minded Omaha World-Herald knows that Big Red Homophobia is dragging the city down, even as it seeks more convention business to pay off the bonds on the $250,000,000 Century Link Center.
     Twelve years ago, the Herald threw its statewide influence against Initiative 416, which amended Nebraska's constitution to ban gay marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships and anything else that even smelled queer.
     The state's voters overwhelmingly supported 416 anyway, convinced in large part by hundreds of thousands of carpetbagger Mormon dollars.
     As we write this, state senators in Lincoln are putting final touches on boutique legislation to attract a $1.2 billion data center, perhaps to be built by Apple but more likely by Facebook. Iowa is also vying for the facility, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the gay employees of either firm would doubtless prefer to work in LGBT-friendly Iowa than heterosexual supremacist Nebraska.
      Anyway, in an editorial published Sunday, the World-Herald made it clear that it wasn't fooled by Jean Stothert's transparent attempt to head off Ben Gray's February 28th reintroduction of his amendment to include LGBT folk in Omaha's list of protected classes.
     Stothert's meaningless stunt, introduced by her and the other two council members (Garry Gernandt and Thomas Mulligan) who voted against LGBT rights in Omaha last year, was a nonbinding resolution that didn't even mention LGBT people by name. It said, in part: “All people possess an innate human dignity that must be acknowledged and respected,” and went on to claim that the council would pledge to work with business and community leaders to promote workplaces that “promote respect and eliminate any workplace discrimination.”
     Gray's response was: “If you have people who are hellbent on discriminating, what's a ‘voluntary approach' going to solve?” The Herald, which is running a poll on the issue here, politely dismissed Stothert's calculated distraction as a:
precursor to the introduction of council member Ben Gray's proposed amendments to make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
      It's now 2012. The hope would be that businesses, landlords and others would have moved past the stereotypes and scorn that have too often greeted the gay and lesbian community.
      Most have. Many businesses have adopted non-discrimination policies regarding the gay and lesbian community and operate that way.
      These are real signs of positive progress.
      But the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is seeking equality. Real equality. The kind that is accompanied by a law making it illegal to discriminate against a certain group...
      In the absence of state and federal laws, the Omaha City Council should adopt Gray's proposal...
      Nationwide, about 140 cities have enacted such anti-discrimination laws. If local elected officials choose to do so, they should have that authority. A bill currently before the Nebraska Legislature, LB 912, would wrongly prohibit local communities from taking such action.
David Brown, of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, which lobbied against Ben Gray's amendment last year, seems to be on board with the Stothert deception. He sent a shameless letter to the Council in support of it, which read, in part:
“Omaha is certainly a welcoming and inclusive place, but we do need to constantly reinforce that — from government leadership to individual employers and associations.”
Please email your City Council Member (if you don't know your district, look here) and send a copy to the Committee for Equal Protection addressed to Be sure to tell them which district you are in as well.

Here are email addresses for all Omaha City Council members:

Pete Festersen — — District 1
Ben Gray — — District 2
Chris Jerram — — District 3
Garry Gernandt — — District 4
Jean Stothert — — District 5
Franklin Thompson — — District 6
Tom Mulligan — — District 7

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