Lincoln City Council approves Fairness Ordinance

The measure will include protections against discrimination for sexual orientation, gender identity and military or veteran status.
Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 5:14 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - An ordinance ten years in the making is making Lincoln a safe place for everyone. The Lincoln City Council voted unanimously to approve the Fairness Ordinance, which updates Lincoln’s employment discrimination laws.

The City Council passed the ordinance unanimously with two council members absent. Councilman Tom Beckius and councilman Richard Meginnis were not at the meeting.

Monday was the third of a four-step process to pass the Fairness Ordinance. Councilwoman Sändra Washington, who brought forth the Fairness Ordinance, said it is a long time coming.

“We worked very hard for a long time to work through all of the issues and this is what happens when you take your time and do the homework,” said Washington.

The Fairness Ordinance will revise an entire section of Lincoln’s Equal Opportunity Code. It will include protections against discrimination for sexual orientation, gender identity and military or veteran status.

“Title 11 articulates the city’s goal of equal opportunity, it defines discrimination and outlines the process to file a complaint with the Lincoln Commission on Human Rights,” said Washington. “Title 11 then outlines the process the commission can take to investigate and if necessary seek remedy for clients.”

Washington said last week’s public hearing was split, and even though the ordinance passed unanimously, it was important for her to hear from both sides.

“I heard the fear in a lot of the opposition statements I know they’re concerned,” said Washington. “But I know that those concerns are unfounded and our community is not going to be made unsafe because of this Title.”

Councilwoman Jane Raybould said the ordinance will not only extend protections, but will help the Capitol City grow.

“Our Chamber of Commerce and young professionals have testified that this is essential for us to attract new businesses and retain our young people,” said Raybould.

Going forward, Washington hopes the ordinance will drastically bring down discrimination in Lincoln.

“What I hope is that we don’t have a single case of discrimination brought before the human rights commission,” said Washington.

The mayor now has 15 days to sign off on the updated ordinance, which will no doubt happen. She’s repeatedly said this ordiance has been one of her administration’s priorities.

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