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Lincoln, Neb., LGBT ‘fairness ordinance’ unlikely to appear on ballot

Thursday, August 16, 2012
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LINCOLN, Neb. — A proposed ordinance which would prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations in Lincoln, Neb., will likely not appear on the November ballot.

A member of Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler’s staff confirmed to LGBTQ Nation on Thursday that the “fairness amendment” would have to be on Monday’s City Council agenda in order to meet the Lancaster County election commissioner’s Sept. 4 deadline.

But the council’s agenda, released today, makes no mention of the ballot issue, reported the Lincoln Journal-Star.

Lancaster County election commissioner David J. Shively said that in order for the measure to appear on the ballot, the language for the ballot issue would have to be on the council’s agenda by Monday, August 20.

“After much discussion with Carl Eskridge (the city councilman who has been promoting the fairness issue), it was decided the issue would not be on the November ballot.” said Diane Gonzolas, a spokeswoman for the mayor.

“Councilman Eskridge will be discussing the future of the fairness ordinance and vote when he returns to Lincoln next week,” she said.
The “Fairness Ordinance” added sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s non-discrimination law and passed with a 5-0 vote May 14 with the two Republican council members abstaining. However, citizens can seek a referendum on any newly passed ordinance by collecting enough signatures in a 15-day period.

The Nebraska Family Council and Family First gathered petitions, collection 10,092 signatures by the deadline, forcing the council to put the measure up for a referendum vote by city residents, or let the ordinance die, reported the Journal-Star.

Legally, a resolution with the “fairness” language could be introduced as late as the August 27 council meeting, with a hearing and vote on the same day, according to City Clerk Joan Ross.

But for now, unless the council takes action and places the issue on a future ballot as an amendment to the city charter, the ordinance has effectively been killed off by its opponents.

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