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City council votes to rescind LGBTQ protections passed in February

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The Lincoln, Nebraska City Council has voted against keeping an anti-discrimination ordinance in place that would have maintained protections for LGBTQ members of the city. It has only been four months since it was initially approved, but the most surprising aspect is that two out LGBTQ council members were a part of the voting block that rescinded the ordinance.

Known as the fairness ordinance, the council voted 4-3 to end the revision passed in February that offered equal opportunity to LGBTQ people when it comes to housing, employment opportunities, and public accommodations. According to the Lincoln Journal-Star, the ordinance was under attack by an anti-LGBTQ conservative group that successfully petitioned the council to vote against keeping it in place.

Related: Private school sues to get anti-discrimination ordinance overturned despite being exempt from law

If the vote had not been taken, a measure to revoke the ordinance would have been put on the November ballot as a measure.

The ordinance has been under attack since it was put in place back in February. The conservative group Nebraska Family Alliance falsely described the ordinance as a “transgender bathroom ordinance.”

The Nebraska Family Alliance started a petition when the ordinance was revised that received over 18,000 signatures in only two weeks, forcing the council to either revoke the ordinance or allow Lincoln city residents to vote.

Two of the council members who voted to rescind the ordinance are gay. Tom Beckius and James Michael Bowers joined councilmembers Bennie Shobe and Richard Meginnis to rescind the ordinance. Beckius and Bowers were afraid that the ordinance would not be voted to stay in place had it been put on the ballot in November.

Beckius said members of the LGBTQ community are already protected from employment discrimination under a 2020 Supreme Court ruling. That ruling – Bostock v. Clayton Co. – extended protections from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to the categories of sexual orientation and gender identity.

However, the third out member of the council, Sandra Washington, joined Jane Raybould and Tammy Ward to uphold the ordinance, saying that the ordinance would have been protected had it come to the ballot in November.

The three women of the council believe that the voters elected a Democratic mayor and three out council members in order to keep the ordinance in place.

Washington vows to continue protecting LGBTQ rights in Nebraska.

“To the upcoming generations – to the youth of our city – I want you to know I see you,” Washington said. “I have been where you stand now, and I promise you it will get better.”

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