Mayor Chris Beutler said he strongly disagrees with a Nebraska Attorney General's opinion on the City's proposed Fairness Ordinance, and that the City will move forward as planned.
The Fairness Ordinance, introduced Monday by City Council member Carl Eskridge, would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals from discrimination in the workplace, in housing and in public accommodations. The Attorney General's opinion states that cities cannot enact such legislation without a change in State law or without a public vote to change the City Charter.
"The opinion is just that - an opinion. It has no binding effect on the City," Beutler said. "I can think of no reason to stop moving forward with this ordinance, and I can think of many reasons to get this protection on the books. As others have pointed out, this is not just a matter of justice, it's also an economic development issue and a quality of life issue."
The Council will have a public hearing on the ordinance at its meeting Monday, May 7 and is scheduled to take a vote Monday May 14.
"The basic issue here is fairness," Mayor Beutler said. "No one should live in fear of losing a job or housing because of sexual orientation or gender identity. Lincoln is the Capital City of Nebraska - a state whose motto is 'equality before the law.' It's time to make those words ring true for everyone in our community. The bottom line is that we cannot claim to be an inclusive society if we allow discriminatory practices against these citizens. Everyone deserves to be respected."