Anti-discrimination bill brings controversy to Omaha

By: Kali Nicole

Some supporters of an anti-discrimination ordinance say it's just a matter of time before cities across America pass something similar, but what about in Lincoln? It's because Lincoln has already tried.

It's a been there, done that, kind of issue for the Capitol City. A proposed ordinance, allowing gays and transgenders to file complaints with the city if they thought they were being discriminated against in the workplace.

Many years ago here, it did not pass. Over in Omaha, they're still trying to decide. Around a hundred people argued both sides of the debate at a city council public hearing. “I want to be here for my Grandma and my Grandpa who said they would disown me if I ever came out as gay and they love me and they understand me because they educated themselves,” said a citizen in Omaha. Another disagreed saying, “I do not want these people or that lifestyle shoved down my throat.”

Even big names like Assistant Football Coach, Ron Brown, spoke at the Omaha meeting, citing religion as a reason to stop this proposal. Award winning film director, Alexander Payne, disagreed saying, “As a proud Omahan, I support this ordinance by Mr. Gray.”

Back here in Lincoln, we tried asking our council members if they could foresee a repeat of the past public hearing here, maybe catching fuel from the Omaha hype. The only one to comment was Diana Schimek saying it's just too soon to tell.

If a bill before the Legislature passes the debate in Omaha won't even matter. It would aim at basically doing the same thing as the Omaha ordinance, except it doesn't include sexual orientation as a reason to be protected from discrimination. It would also take away the right for individual cities to decide on discrimination.