Thursday, February 23, 2017

Facing reelection, GOP Omaha mayor flipflops on LGBT employment rights; Stothert dragged feet on insurance for married gays

Above: Sen. Adam Morfeld, last year, during a lunch rally in support of
LB586, his equal opportunity LGBT employment bill, which was defeated.
He's trying again this year with LB173. You can listen to this year's press
conference on the website of the Nebraska Radio Network
Lincoln state senator Adam Morfeld has reintroduced his employment LGBT anti­discrimination measure (this year, it's called LB173) and held hearings yesterday.
     Omaha's mayor, who is up for reelection seems to have changed her tune, according to the Omaha World-Herald:
     In a letter to the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, Stothert called the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to protected categories under state law “important and necessary.”
     “I support LB 173 and the fair, uniform application of civil rights to all persons who live and work in the State of Nebraska,” she said.
     Omaha five years ago passed a similar ordinance to protect gay and transgender people from discrimination. But Stothert, then a member of the City Council, voted against it.
     Former State Sen. Heath Mello, who is challenging Stothert in this year’s race for Omaha mayor, issued a statement Wednesday hailing the bill and saying he doesn’t “wait until election years to support anti-discrimination measures.”
In 2012, Stothert adamantly opposed adding LGBTs as a protected class in Omaha employment to the city's charter:

     Only in 2015 did Stothert finally reverse her stance of refusing health insurance benefits to gay spouses of city employees.
     She had previously maintained that they should bring up the issue during contract negotiations.
     The World-Herald noted that she was one of the last local holdouts on the issue, finally following the lead of La Vista, Bellevue, Douglas County, Sarpy County, OPS, Creighton University, The University of Nebraska, the VA Medical Center, Methodist Health System and Alegent-Creighton/CHI.
     We suspect she was only worried about the city being sued in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's DOMA/Windsor decision.
     In the Unicameral yesterday, the usual suspects showed up to oppose LB173, including the Nebraska Catholic Conference and the Lincoln-based "Nebraska Family Alliance."
     Here's how the Catholic church torpedoed equal employment rights for LGBTs last session:

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