Council Considering Proposed Changes To City’s Anti-Discrimination Rules

Lincoln, NE (February 7, 2022)  Members of the Lincoln City Council are considering changes to the City Code that would prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and services based on a person’s gender, sexual orientation, or veteran status.  The changes have been proposed by Councilwoman Sandra Washington.  Opinions were aired by members of the Public in Monday’s Council Meeting.

Introducing the changes at the start of the hearing, Washington said she believes it’s time to update the Code’s anti-discrimination section in order to make Lincoln a better place to live, make it more attractive to young people and businesses and bring the City into line with recent changes in Federal Law.

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird urged the Council to approve the changes.  She said their addition to the City Code would make Lincoln more attractive to businesses.  She noted that over 400 U.S. cities have already added similar provisions to their ordinances, and that all other Big 10 cities are included in the list.

Remarks from the public were varied.

“The proposed revisions will help Lincoln retain and attract a sufficient and talented workforce,” said supporter, Debra DiBernard. “During my 33 years of teaching at UNL I’ve worked with a number of remarkable young people who were born in Nebraska but did not stay after college because of the repressive atmosphere.”

“I want to keep these young people here who are transgender, have a different gender or sexual identity than is mainstream, and I just feel very strongly from my heart that this is the place that we can do that,” said supporter Angela Garbacz.

“Anybody, no matter what they say their sexual orientation is, has every right that I have,” said opponent, Andrew Watson. “What they’re asking for is an additional right. They’re asking for some new thing long recognized as a crime to be added to those list of things that they wish to be able to do with the sanction of society.”

Others want to see the ordinance on ballots to let the people of Lincoln decide.

“One of the City Council members was quoted as this is the right thing to do,” said opponent, Samuel Lyon. “Well I think the right thing to do would be to put it to a vote of the people let the people decide.”

Council members are scheduled to vote on how to proceed with the “Fairness Ordinance” at their next meeting.