Council proposes equal rights ordinance

By: Kali Nicole

Councilman Carl Eskridge officially introduced the ordinance today, but the leaders that stand behind him in support included state senators, past council members and mayors from several districts.

Try, try again, it's the old saying adopted for a new ordinance introduced to the City Council Monday. Unlike thirty years ago when area leaders tried to end discrimination against gays and transgenders in the workplace, this time, they say the pressure is on.

“All of the other 11 cities that host Big Ten universities have such a provision in their cities and we think it's time for Lincoln as well,” said Councilman Eskridge.

Especially true when just last month, Omaha passed a similar ordinance, one Lincoln would mimic stating the only exception to the rule would be religious organizations.

Some opponents to such ordinances, like running backs coach, Ron Brown, say that's not enough. “I don't have discrimination against anybody. That is not the Lord at all. I just don't believe that they should be a protected class in that situation. A class distinction, people getting special benefits,” said Brown on March 28th, 2012.

But city leaders say, it's simply for justice for approximately five to six percent of Lincoln's population. That's anywhere from 12,000 to 15,000 people in our city. “It would be similar in size or the percentage of Students in the Lincoln Public Schools that are African American and couldn't, we wouldn't, dare discriminate against that five to six percent of students. We don't think that's appropriate in this instance either,” said Eskridge.

An instance they say has led to depression and suicides in other cities across the nation and something they want to keep from happening here.

“As we strive to combat bullying, we adults should not regard as acceptable in our workplaces that which we teach as unacceptable in the school hallways and playgrounds,” said Ed Zimmer with the Lincoln Board of Education.

The Lincoln City Council will have a public hearing on this ordinance next Monday night and their vote will be the week after that on May 14th.