The Omaha City Council recently passed a resolution opposing workplace discrimination in the city.
The resolution, which is a show of support as opposed to a law, is a precursor to the introduction of council member Ben Gray's proposed amendments to make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
It's now 2012. The hope would be that businesses, landlords and others would have moved past the stereotypes and scorn that have too often greeted the gay and lesbian community.
Most have. Many businesses have adopted non-discrimination policies regarding the gay and lesbian community and operate that way.
These are real signs of positive progress.
But the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is seeking equality. Real equality. The kind that is accompanied by a law making it illegal to discriminate against a certain group. Such laws already exist at the state and federal levels for race, religion, gender and disabilities.
It's unfortunate that no anti-discrimination law exists at the state or federal level. That would be a more appropriate venue for such legislation. The state and federal governments are equipped to handle the complaints and hearing processes that are necessary to administer such a law.
In the absence of state and federal laws, the Omaha City Council should adopt Gray's proposal.
This action would let the world know what Omahans already know: We are a welcoming place and want to continue to nurture and grow all sectors of our community.
Nationwide, about 140 cities have enacted such anti-discrimination laws. If local elected officials choose to do so, they should have that authority. A bill currently before the Nebraska Legislature, LB 912, would wrongly prohibit local communities from taking such action.
The City Council should make certain that the administration of Gray's proposal does not place an undue burden on employers. The ordinance should provide a venue for a fair and expedient hearing, rather than a place for drawn-out proceedings requiring unreasonable amounts of time, money and frustration.
Let's keep Omaha a business-friendly city while sending the message that we value all members of our community.