Omaha Hub

Omaha City Council to Debate and Vote on LGBT Bias Bill Today

(Above, Nebraska football coach Ron Brown bashing gays at a hearing last week)

I've been posting quite a bit on this (see links below) and now it's time to vote on it.

GrayThe World Herald reports:

[Ben] Gray's (pictured, right) proposed amendments to city anti-discrimination ordinances would allow lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents to file complaints with Omaha's Human Rights and Relations Department if they believed they were fired because of their sexual orientation, suffered other workplace discrimination or were refused service at restaurants, hotels or other places that serve the public.

Gray's proposed language includes an exemption for religious organizations.

The seven council members are scheduled to debate and vote on the protections, and related amendments, at the start of the 2 p.m. meeting. Most eyes will be on Councilman Franklin Thompson, who killed a similar proposal in 2010 by declining to cast a vote on it. The vote that time was 3-3.

Thompson has promised to vote Tuesday.

The World-Herald is hosting a liveblog of the meeting starting at 2pm CT.

You may have missed...
A 9-minute Clip of Nutty Homophobic Christianist Testimony [tr]
Alexander Payne, Coach Ron Brown Testify at Omaha Hearing [tr]
Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray Discusses Ordinance Protecting LGBT Workers: VIDEO [tr]

Nebraska Coach Ron Brown Criticized For Anti-Gay Rant In Omaha

On March 6th, University of Nebraska football coach Ron Brown appeared before the Omaha City Council to testify against anti-discrimination regulations proposed by Councilmember Ben Gray. His argument, essentially, was this: By protecting LGBTs from employment discrimination, the council would grant its imprimatur to sodomy. (The idea that Bible-believing Christians might be both anti-sodomy and anti-employment discrimination never occurred to him.) Andy's been covering the Omaha drama extensively -- click here for the full back story.

Brown's testimony -- viewable AFTER THE JUMP -- has irked some Huskers fans, including John F. Carroll, who wrote the following to Tom Osborne, Athletic Director at University of Nebraska: 

As a gay Christian (that bleeds all things Big Red), and a long time season ticket holder that comes with a $1,000 dollar donation each year, I really felt betrayed by Coach Brown's comments. I am no stranger to this type of rhetoric. I was shocked to hear Coach Brown tie Memorial Stadium to his anti-gay statements.

I am a licensed registered nurse and an attorney. I say grace with every meal. I pray daily for those in need. I have dealt with homophobia since I was kid. I was bullied throughout school. In my twenties, I was fired from a job and kicked out of an apartment because I was gay. In my thirties, I was the victim of a hate crime and I was outed on the television show Survivor. Now in my 40s, I still hear the anti-gay rhetoric throughout my beloved state.

I am all for free speech. There are limits when a representative like Coach Brown who is associated with the University exercises his first amendment rights and states that his address is Memorial Stadium. I get that it was an attempt at humor; I can assure you that many gay and straight husker fans did not find it funny.

As you are aware, the University is comprised of all types of various colors, genders, ages, religions, and yes, people of different sexual orientations and gender identities. While Coach Brown's fight for his civil rights, is waning, the rights of gays and lesbians are far from secure. To hear Coach Brown, a representative of the University of Nebraska, use God and Jesus to argue against providing gays and lesbians protection from people that would harm them in the work place is beyond the pale. It makes me wonder what would happen if one of the football players came out. Would he bench them? Would he recommend kicking them off the team? I know former players that are gay. Has the University ever once asked them what it was like hiding in plain sight?

You can read the full letter here.

Osborne apologized, writing that:

I'm sorry that you've been offended by Ron Brown's comments. I can assure you that Ron's comments are reflective of his own views and do not represent those of the Athletic Department or the University. 

But Ron Brown won't shut up. In interviews last week, according to

... Brown also questioned whether he would have been criticized if he had testified in support of the anti-discrimination proposal.

“Should every employee from the University of Nebraska have to say that they're not representing the university?” Brown asked. “Would I have been OK if I was on the other side of the coin, in terms of if I was in favor of the proposal?”

Of course it would have, Ron, because in that instance you would have been repping the University's POV. Not all opinions are equal. 

Continue reading "Nebraska Coach Ron Brown Criticized For Anti-Gay Rant In Omaha" »

A 9-Minute Clip of Nutty, Homophobic 'Christianist' Testimony on the Omaha LGBT Non-Discrimination Bill: VIDEO


Earlier this week I posted a report on a hearing on an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance being considered in Omaha. Among those testifying were Oscar-winning screenwriter Alexander Payne (for), a native Omahan, and University of Nebraska Assistant Football Coach Ron Brown (against).

Blogger Aksarbent has posted another clip of testimony, featuring those opposed to the ordinance.

One speaker says she was attacked for bringing an Easter book to work, A pastor describes how he was attacked by gay activists who surrounded him with a rainbow flag.

Another woman speaks of Judgment Day and the consequences of going against natural law. The son of a minister tells them that God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Barney. Another says that gay is a choice, and if the LGBT discrimination ordinance is passed, those who will be discriminated against are those who object to gay people.

Another complains about the "billable hours" he gave up that afternoon to come in and preach to them the "truth about love". A former street preacher is upset that men will be able to play on women's sports teams.

And one guy is confused, and is for the good guys.

Watch it all go down, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "A 9-Minute Clip of Nutty, Homophobic 'Christianist' Testimony on the Omaha LGBT Non-Discrimination Bill: VIDEO" »

Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray Discusses Ordinance Protecting LGBT Workers: VIDEO


There's a battle underway in Nebraska between Omaha City Councilmember Ben Gray, who introduced an Equal Employment Ordinance to protect the city's LGBT workers, and Beau McCoy (below), a state senator who introduced a bill intended to stop Gray's ordinance at the state level.

MccoyI've written about it here before. McCoy's bill would prevent LGBT anti-discrimination ordinances at the local level and be retroactive, repealing those already in place, while defining who is a "protected person" under Nebraska state law. LGBT people would be excluded from that definition in McCoy's bill.

Today, some hopeful news. State Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha, the Judiciary Committee chairman said it does not appear that the panel will act on McCoy's bill.

Gray's proposal will be on the council's agenda for the first time Tuesday, with a public hearing set for March 6.

Hear him talk about it, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray Discusses Ordinance Protecting LGBT Workers: VIDEO" »

Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, Nebraska Musicians Protest Attempt to Block Local Anti-Discrimination Ordinances

Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst and 16 other musicians are speaking out about a bill I posted about last week proposed by State Sen. Beau McCoy that would prohibit local municipalities across Nebraska from enacting their own anti-discrimination ordinances. The proposed legislation would block plans by Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray to protect LGBT people from discrimination in that city.

OberstThe World Herald reports:

In a letter Tuesday, Oberst and 16 other musicians called it “deplorable and unacceptable” to attempt to block Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray from winning passage of an ordinance to ban discrimination against homosexual and transgender people. Gray has said he would propose such an ordinance this month or next...

...The letter was sent to senators on the Legislature's Judiciary Committee. Others signers include members of The Faint, Big Harp, So So Sailors and Honeybee & Hers.

The musicians fear if lawmakers pass the bill, it will deter creative people from exploring opportunities in Omaha and could persuade some gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to leave the community.

“Progressive cities attract eager newcomers, both young professionals and artists, which in turn creates growth and economic prosperity,” the letter stated. “LB 912 will send the message to the world that Nebraska is not forward thinking or welcoming.”

A hearing on the bill has not scheduled.

Nebraska Lawmaker Introduces Legislation to Prohibit Local Anti-Discrimination Ordinances

Nebraska State Senator Beau McCoy (pictured) has introduced legislation that would prohibit local municipalities across the state from enacting their own anti-discrimination ordinances. The proposed legislation conflicts with plans by an Omaha City Councilman to protect LGBT people from discrimination in that city, the World-Herald reports:

MccoyCity Councilman Ben Gray says he plans to place a measure to ban discrimination against homosexual and transgender people on the council's agenda — as early as the end of the month or by late February.

But an Omaha state senator wants to bar cities and local governments from unilaterally creating such protected classes. Instead, the bill would grant such authority solely to the state.

The conflicting proposals are likely to reignite debate about more than a municipality's rights. The conversation will center on sexual orientation, the rights of private enterprise, religion and civil rights.

Blogger Aksarbent points out that the legislation proposed by McCoy is similar to that passed last year in Tennessee, which voided an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance in Nashville.

McCoy has masked his homophobia in a claim he wants consistency in state law: "It just merely says that if we're going to change the protected classes ... we need to come to the Capitol to do it so that it's consistent across the state. If it's the right thing to do, it ought to be the right thing to do border-to-border, not just in one city or municipality."


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