The deadline has passed to put the LGBT Fair Workplace Ordinance on the ballot this spring. Organizers of the petition effort say they were close, but did not have the signatures in time for the deadline.
The Omaha Liberty Project lead the charge to get the 11,419 signatures needed to put the ordinance to a vote. The group would have needed an extra 25% on top of that 11,419 and Patrick Bonnett says the number of signatures is close.
The ordinance, passed in March, makes it against the law to discriminate in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Bonnett plans to carry on the petition drive throughout February when he says the goal amount of signatures, 15,000, would be reached.
That would put the ordinance on the ballot for the election following the one coming up.
He calls the drive a success in educating the public. "We were shocked and surprised so many hadn't heard of the ordinance and what it meant."
The group spent July to August organizing and working on the language of the 11 page petition. Then for 2 months, they held voter registration drives and has been collecting signatures since October.
"People are engaged," said Bonnett. He said the petition has drawn attention to bills in the legislature, namely, LB 380 and LB 619.
Stay Equal Omaha played a large role in getting the ordinance passed, in reaction to the petition not meeting deadline,
Stay Equal Omaha Board Members Rev. Dr. Scott Jones, Shelley Kiehl, Rob Dorton and Adam Morfield issued a statement.
"Today marks an important victory for Omaha. By Omahans refusal to sign The Omaha Liberty Project’s petition to remove employment protections for Omaha citizens, Omahans have affirmed that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are part of the fundamental social and economic fabric of the city. Omaha remains one of a growing list of cities nationwide that have enacted such nondiscrimination ordinances. We look forward to a day when all Nebraskans are granted the right to work without discrimination.”