by Mark M. Schorr
As of March 28, 2012, a new protected category has been created under the Omaha Municipal Ordinance enforced by Omaha’s Human Rights and Relations Department. Omaha residents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender are now protected from discrimination in the same way that sex, race, national origin, age, marital status, disability, etc., are protected categories under Nebraska and federal law.
The controversial ordinance was the subject of heated public debate and a lengthy public hearing before the Omaha City Council, which passed it 4-3 on a straight party-line vote (all Democrats voted for, and all Republicans against). Mayor Jim Suttle signed the ordinance on March 15. Although he invited all council members to the public signing, only Councilman Ben Gray, the legislation’s main proponent, was in attendance.