Omaha Passes Anti-Discrimination Resolution

Jonathan Athens

OMAHA (KPTM) -- Omaha City Council by a unanimous vote passed an anti-discrimination resolution but activists say it doesn't go far enough.

"While it is always good to encourage people to do the right thing, it is also important that we state clearly and unequivocally that it is illegal to do the wrong thing," said Rev. Scott Jones, a gay activist and minister.

The resolution, sponsored by Council members Jean Stothert, Gerry Gernandt and Council President Tom Mulligan pledges to "promote respect and eliminate any workplace discrimination." It does not single out gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender people or any other group. Nor does the resolution have the weight of an enforceable city ordinance.

"If we truly want Omaha to be an inclusive and welcoming community, we need to take a position that all citizens are important to us...and that all citizens deserve respect and freedom from discrimination and not just certain groups of people," said Councilwoman Jean Stothert.

Underlying the controversy, Council was split 3-3 in October 2010 when Councilman Ben Gray introduced an ordinance that would have made GLBT people a protected class.

"This is a protected class that has been harmed by workplace discrimination," Gray said.

Gray is reworking his proposed ordinance to exclude religious groups from possible discrimination complaints. He intends to introduce it to council soon.