"It's part of our job as legislators not only to enact laws for the good of citizens but to provoke dialogue, talk about them and debate them." -- Sen. Danielle Conrad
A Nebraska lawmaker has introduced a bill that would prohibit employers from discriminating against potential workers based on their sexual orientation.
Sen. Danielle Conrad of Lincoln proposed a measure Tuesday that would prohibit employers from considering orientation when hiring, firing, promoting or managing workers.
"It's part of our job as legislators not only to enact laws for the good of citizens but to provoke dialogue, talk about them and debate them. Then move those ideas forward into the market place which is critical for our system," Conrad said.
Conrad says now is the right time to revisit employment discrimination. She says she was inspired by recent conversations over similar gay-rights ordinances in Omaha, Lincoln and other parts of the country.
"This isn't about carving out special rights or status for anybody. This is about leveling the playing field and creating equal rights for everybody in the state," Conrad said.
Lincoln and Omaha recently considered gay-rights ordinances, which faced opposition from social conservatives. Omaha passed an ordinance extending legal protections to gay and transgender residents last year. Lincoln city officials approved a similar measure, but opponents launched a successful petition drive to force a public vote on the issue. Voters will decide the issue in May.
"You have to be careful with a public vote on this. When you look at the history of various civil rights movements, they have been decided at the federal level. I'm not sure those civil rights should be decided at the public ballot box," Conrad said.