Petition Underway Concerning Omaha Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

An anti-discrimination ordinance passed in 2012 by the Omaha City Council is the subject of a petition to rescind the new law.

The ordinance extends protection to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the workplace and became law in March of 2012.

It raised concern among opponents who contend the law is unnecessary.

Patrick Bonnett of Omaha Liberty Project told Channel 6 News, "Ordinances like this lead to unintended consequences and those consequences lead to discrimination against religious liberties, religious freedoms of speech, rights of conscience and we oppose that."

Omaha Liberty Project is an organization of 241 churches circulating a petition with the goal of recording at least 11,400 signatures.

If successful, the Omaha City Council could reconsider the issue or it could be decided a vote of the people in the May election.

Shelley Kiel of Voice Omaha told Channel 6 News that rescinding the ordinance would be a step backwards.

"What it simply did is say Omaha is an open, inclusive place and we intend to make sure that people who are in the minority are protected in the workplace and they are allowed to do their jobs without fear of reprisals because of who they are."

Kiel said the ordinance was based on research and Omaha is among a growing number of progressive cities with such an ordinance.

Bonnett expressed a different view. "The real message that was received by the people that actually live here is that we're a bunch of homophobes and bigots and that couldn't be farthest from the case," he said.

Both Bonnett and Kiel said there have been no instances of work place discrimination based on sexual preference filed with the city.

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