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On to the ballot, say foes of Lincoln’s “fairness ordinance”

The ordinance prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
Virus Outbreak Nebraska Primary
Posted at 4:25 PM, Mar 01, 2022

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska Examiner) — Opponents of the “fairness ordinance” approved recently by the Lincoln City Council announced Tuesday they gathered more than enough signatures to have the measure rescinded or placed on the ballot for a vote of the people.

The Nebraska Family Alliance held a news conference to say its volunteers had collected 18,501 names in 15 days. That’s more than four times the necessary 4,137 signatures, which equates to 4% of Lincoln residents who voted in the last gubernatorial election.

“We want Lincoln to be a fair and welcoming place for all people,” the “Let Us Vote” Family Alliance campaign said in a statement.

The ordinance that passed a couple of weeks ago on a 5-0 City Council vote prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It also broadens the city’s municipal code to add military personnel and veterans as a protected class, and updates several other definitions.

The Family Alliance took aim at the sexual orientation and gender identity portion of the ordinance.

The Alliance contends that the ordinance “means that businesses, churches and private schools must allow men to use women’s restrooms, locker rooms and showers if they identify as women, and citizens could be liable for tens of thousands of dollars in fines simply for expressing their beliefs if it has the ‘effect’ of creating an ‘offensive’ environment.”

In 2012, the Lincoln City Council and Omaha City Council approved ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. But a petition drive launched in Lincoln afterward gathered enough signatures to put the matter on the ballot or see it rescinded by the council, and the ordinance stalled.

The Lincoln city attorney was unavailable Tuesday when contacted about a city response on what happens next.

Nebraska Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nebraska Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Cate Folsom for questions: info@nebraskaexaminer.com. Follow Nebraska Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.

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