Effort to back inclusive workplaces - Omaha.com
Published Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 12:00 am / Updated at 1:00 am
Effort to back inclusive workplaces

Three Omaha City Council members who opposed an earlier effort to grant legal protections to gay and transgender residents have proposed a resolution in support of inclusive workplaces.

The resolution says the council believes no one should be targeted for “scorn, hatred or violence for any reason.” The council also pledges in the resolution to work with business and community leaders to promote workplaces that “promote respect and eliminate any workplace discrimination.”

Jean Stothert, Garry Gernandt and Thomas Mulligan sponsored the latest proposal, which is set for a vote at Tuesday's council meeting.

Its introduction comes amid a growing behind-the-scenes battle among business, political and religious organizations over Councilman Ben Gray's plans to formally propose new protections against discrimination for gay, lesbian and transgender residents.

The council last took up the matter in 2010, when Gray last offered a proposal.

His latest proposal is expected to appear on the council's agenda in two weeks.

Stothert said she sees the resolution as a viable alternative to changing the city ordinance. She said she believes the resolution would more accurately address the root of the problem.

“Passing a new law doesn't guarantee anything,” she said. “We cannot legislate people's behaviors.”

Gray said the resolution does not change his plans to introduce his anti-discrimination proposal. He said he plans to vote against Stothert's resolution because it lacks teeth.

“If you have people who are hellbent on discriminating, what's a ‘voluntary approach' going to solve?” Gray said. “If we feel strongly about scorn, hatred and violence, then we ought to say so strongly by passing an ordinance that prohibits that kind of behavior in the workplace.”

Stothert said she wants to move toward a “peaceful solution” to the matter.

“If we truly want Omaha to be an inclusive and welcoming community, we need to take a position that all citizens deserve respect and freedom from discrimination and not just those groups in the protected classes,” she said.

Under Gray's proposal, the city's existing anti-discrimination ordinance would be amended to prohibit discrimination based on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.”

Gray's amendments would allow gay and transgender residents who believed they were fired because of their orientation, suffered other workplace discrimination or were refused service at a restaurant, hotel or other place that serves the public to file a complaint with Omaha's Human Rights and Relations Department.

One major change: Draft language in the proposal would exclude all religious organizations — not just Catholic groups — from adhering to provisions prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The draft also includes a definition of gender identity, although Gray said that language could be changed before the end of the month.

A repeat of the 2010 vote seems unlikely. Council member Franklin Thompson abstained from voting then, leading the proposal to fail on a 3-3 tie.

Thompson promises to vote on the proposal this time, though he has declined to say whether he would support or oppose the proposal.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1068, johnny.perez@owh.com, twitter.com/PerezJr

8% of alcohol sellers checked in Omaha area last week sold booze to minors
OPS bus, SUV collide; no students onboard at the time
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
Lori Jenkins, charged as accessory in 4 murders, waives speedy trial
Iowa State servers hacked, nearly 30,000 SSNs at risk
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
2nd District House race: After 8 terms, Lee Terry knows how D.C. works — and doesn't
Bellevue man is killed at Minnesota dance hall after South Sudanese basketball tourney
Spring corn planting still sputters in Nebraska, Iowa, other key states
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
19-year-old killed in one-vehicle crash at 72nd & Shirley
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
U.S. Senate race: State Auditor Mike Foley defends Shane Osborn against ad campaign
Public defender to represent Nikko Jenkins in sentencing
Mid-America Center on track for lower operating loss
Bluffs City Council approves dozens of new numbered street lights
National Law Enforcement Memorial Week set for May
Ted Cruz backs Pete Ricketts' campaign for governor
Omahan charged with 5th-offense DUI after street race causes rollover
2 blocks of Grover Street closed
Safety board report blames pilot error in 2013 crash that killed UNO student, passenger
Omaha man accused in shooting ordered held on $75,000 bail
2 men charged with conspiracy to distribute meth held on $1 million bail each
La Vista plans meeting on sales tax proposal, 84th Street redevelopment
6-mile stretch of Highway 75 is the road not taken
< >
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Breaking Brad: Kraft wiener recall is business opportunity for TD Ameritrade Park
Instead of returning the wieners, TD Ameritrade Park is calling them "cheese dogs" and charging double.
Breaking Brad: Photos with the Easter Bunny are so 2010
In a sign of the times, most kids ran out of patience waiting for a photo with the Easter Bunny at the mall, just snapped a selfie and went home.
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Tokyo Sushi
$5 for $10 or $10 for $20 toward All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Purchase
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »