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Omaha city council approves workplace non-discrimination ordinance

Omaha city council approves workplace non-discrimination ordinance

OMAHA, Neb. — The Omaha city council on Tuesday approved a controversial non-discrimination ordinance that would prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The final vote was 4-3.

Councilman Franklin Thompson, who voted against the ordinance, said he “would have voted in favor of the ordinance had the council been willing to remove the gender classification.”

During a tense hearing last week, several members of the public testified against the measure, telling the council that the protections based on gender identity would open the door to having men dressing as women in public places, which would harm children and put women at risk for sexual assault.

Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle, applauded the council’s approval and said he looks forward to signing the ordinance into law.

“Omaha is a city that welcomes diversity, embraces fresh ideas, and is open for business to everyone,” Suttle said. “Allowing discrimination in our city is wrong — for our citizens and our businesses. With a robust local economy and an increasingly talented workforce, Omaha is well positioned to be one of the most vibrant and innovative cities of the 21st century.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which partnered with Equal Omaha in advocating for the ordinance, praised the council’s action.

“Omaha is a world class city that now joins the ranks of other major American cities standing strong for fairness,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “The city council should be proud for affirming the principle that what matters is how you do your job, not who you are.”

Political observers said after the vote that because Nebraska is considered one of the most conservative states in the nation, this is not only a significant event for the city of Omaha, but for the entire state as well.

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