Senator plans filibuster over sexual discrimination bill

By: Brittany Paris

Lawmakers began debating a bill banning businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity on Thursday. But on senator has already promised to filibuster.

“It provides a clear, bright line standard for all citizens and all employers to know that that won't be tolerated in the workplace,” Sen. Danielle Conrad of Lincoln, said.

Sen. Conrad has made the bill her top priority. It would apply to businesses with 15 or more employees.

She says the bill will ensure all Nebraskans enjoy the same rights. And is supported by the majority of state senators and Nebraskan citizens.

But not all.

Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha, a small business owner, is planning to filibuster the bill on Monday.

He's already filed several amendments to it and even tried to kill the bill. We spoke with him on the phone.

“I don't think the legislation is necessary and I think it'd be very detrimental to our faith organizations, faith–based initiatives and small businesses going forward,” Sen. McCoy said.

He says when you get into the definition of gender identity, it becomes murky, and could provide legal challenges for businesses.

And while he worries about religious organizations, Sen. Conrad assures the bill includes broad religious exemptions for churches, religious schools and organizations.

“Make no mistake about it, gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Nebraskans pay taxes. They raise families. They attend religious faith traditions. They walk the dog. They contribute to our community,” Sen. Conrad said.

“You need to allow small businesses the ability to make decisions that best fit their small businesses,” Sen. McCoy said.

In order to break a filibuster, 33 of the 49 senators need to vote in favor of the bill. The legislature will continue debating on Monday.