Neb. lawmaker introduces bill to ban anti-bias laws

As an Omaha lawmaker announced plans to introduce a measure that would protect gays and lesbians from discrimination, one Nebraska state legislator has promised to prevent all cities in the state from passing nondiscrimination bills.

Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray said he plans on introducing an ordinance to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace and housing as early as this month. However, Sen. Beau McCoy has introduced legislation to bar all municipalities from passing anti-bias ordinances. McCoy’s proposed bill mirrors legislation passed last year in Tennessee which voided an existing anti-bias measure in Nashville.

Gray said he knows queer individuals who left the city because they don’t see it as a welcoming environment.

“I’ve seen enough smoke that I think there’s a fire,” Gray told the Omaha World-Herald. “If we have a segment of our community that is not enjoying those freedoms, or are in fear of not enjoying those freedoms, government has an obligation to act.”

There are 14 municipalities in Utah that protect against bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Efforts to pass a statewide bill have stalled in committee this legislative session and are unlikely to advance this year. Salt Lake City was the first to pass such an ordinance in Utah and it did so with the approval of the Mormon Church in 2009.

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