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Lincoln, Neb., lawmakers support Fairness Ordinance for LGBT citizens

Tuesday, May 1, 2012
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LINCOLN, Neb. — City council member Carl Eskridge on Monday introduced the Lincoln, Neb., “Fairness Ordinance,” a measure that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s non-discrimination law.

Eskridge’s ordinance would prohibit discrimination against gays and transgender people in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations.

At a news conference Monday, current and former elected officials of the city of Lincoln and the Nebraska’s State Legislature spoke in favor of the bill.

“We believe a just society is a society that creates an environment of fairness and tolerance for all its citizens, not just some of its citizens,” said State Sen. Bill Avery (D-Lincoln-South).

State Sen. Danielle Conrad, (D-Lincoln-North) explained that the term sexual orientation has been used in discussing anti-discrimination protection for gay, lesbian and bisexual people, but that “gender identity” is a newer term.

“Birth-assigned gender is at odds with a transgendered person’s own internal sense, she said. “(They) should not face discrimination when they take steps to become whole,” Conrad said.

Former Lincoln Sen. David Landis said the fairness ordinance would help the city of Lincoln, economically.

“Dynamic cities have three things: technology, talent and tolerance. Those cities are magnets for creative people to come and live, The fairness amendment is consistent with the most leading-edge data on what is good for a city,” Landis said.

Lincoln’s Mayor Chris Beutler said he plans to put put the full weight of his office behind supporting the ordinance; five of the city’s seven council members have also pledged their support for the ordinance.

A public hearing on the ordinance is expected to occur May 7, followed by a vote by the council on May 14.

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