Yesterday the city council of Omaha, Nebraska voted to continue to allow businesses to fire someone for being gay, to deny someone service in restaurants for being gay, and to deny housing to someone for being gay.
The measure failed on a 3-3 vote. Councilman Franklin Thompson, who has called for a public vote on the issue, abstained. Councilmen Ben Gray, Pete Festersen and Chris Jerram voted in favor of the ordinance; Jean Stothert, Garry Gernandt and Thomas Mulligan were opposed. Gray, author of the ordinance, proposed that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people be a protected class under city code — protection they don’t currently have under state or federal law. He amended the proposal to exclude religious organizations, but members of the Omaha business community also opposed the ordinance. The council held a public hearing Tuesday on Thompson’s proposal to put the issue to a public vote, in the form of an amendment to the City Charter. The vote on Thompson’s measure is expected next week. “I find it offensive that we would equate this with civil rights,” Pastor Cedric Perkins, pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church said. “Those rights were based upon a person’s color of their skin, which they could not change.”
If you were planning on any business or personal travel to Omaha, let the Chamber of Commerce know if this news changes your plans.