News (USA)

Nebraska town overrides mayor’s veto to add protections for gay city workers

Nebraska town overrides mayor’s veto to add protections for gay city workers

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — The Grand Island, Neb., city council on Tuesday voted to add “sexual orientation” to the city’s non-discrimination policy by overruling a mayoral veto.

The measure first passed 6-4 on Tuesday evening, and following a veto by Mayor Jay Vavricek, the council promptly voted for an override, which passed 8-2.

In an unexpected twist, Councilman Mitch Nickerson, who had taken considerable heat for his comment during a debate on the measure last month — saying that the proposed ordinance would make Grand Island known as being too “gay-friendly” — initially voted against the proposal, then reversed his position and voted to override the mayor’s veto.

The Grand Island Independent reported that after the council first voted in favor of the measure, Vavricek said he was not in favor of the policy, and asked each council member for a verbal explanation of their vote, before issuing his veto.

Only Councilman John Gericke questioned the mayor’s demand for an explanation from council.

Gericke’s said he thought it was inappropriate that Vavricek asked council members to defend their reasoning on this issue and that during his six years on the council, he had never been asked to defend his vote.

Nickerson also took exception to the mayor’s veto.

“I believe the council has spoken,” Nickerson told the mayor. “I will vote for the override.”

The override vote was immediately called following the veto, and in the second vote only two council members voted against the override. Seven votes are needed to override a mayor’s veto in Grand Island.

This new policy applies to only city workers and the city’s hiring practices, and does not apply to any other businesses or employers in the council’s jurisdiction.

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