City council pulls 'fairness' law when voters have a say

City council pulls 'fairness' law when voters have a say

City council pulls 'fairness' law when voters have a say

Homosexual city council members in Nebraska's capital city voted to rescind an LGBT-friendly “fairness ordinance” rather than allow citizens to vote on the controversial issue in November, and the group behind a petition drive is justifiably declaring victory.

In a 4-3 vote, the Lincoln City Council rescinded an ordinance approved just four months earlier that extended non-discrimination protection for “sexual orientation,” meaning the alphabet of homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, and “questioning.”

According to The Associated Press, the seven-person city council includes three open homosexuals. Two of them told the AP they voted to pull the city law over fear it would not survive a vote at the ballot box.

Lincoln, a city of approximately 291,300, operates with a non-partisan mayor and city council but the city is heavily Democratic. The county of Lancaster forms a little blue square in a sea of red counties that voted for Donald Trump 58%-39% over Joe Biden. Lancaster County voted 52%-44% for Biden.

At the center of the controversy is the Lincoln-based Nebraska Family Alliance, where executive director Karen Bowling and Alliance began fighting the city council and its new law the day after the non-discrimination ordinance passed in February.

"Our city charter allows for a referendum," says Bowling tells AFN. “We had 14 days to collect the needed signatures to repeal it."

Bowling and Alliance needed approximately 4,100 signatures within that window but more than 18,000 voters signed their names to challenge the city law. That mega-successful ballot drive required the Lincoln City Council to make a choice: Put the issue before voters or vote to rescind its own ordinance.

According to the AP story, city council members Tom Beckius and James Michael Bowers are both openly homosexual, and both voted in favor of pulling the ordinance. A third city council member, Sandra Washington, is an open lesbian and cast a vote to retain the city law.

Bowling, Karen Bowling

According to the story, Beckius defended his vote because he said LGBT people are already protected by a 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. That is likely referring to a transgender employee who was fired and sued his employer, though the story did not say. 

If the nation’s highest court is already protecting LGBTQ people, which the councilman stated is the case, that begs the question: Why did the city council approve an ordinance anyway only to repeal it over fears their own citizens, whom they represent, might vote it down?

Bowling tells AFN everyone wants Lincoln to “fair and welcoming” but says there was nothing “fair” about the ordinance that fined businesses if they refused to allow transgender women --- biological men --- to use women’s public restrooms.  

"It's important that we stay engaged in the public square,” she says, “and this really is a tremendous victory for the privacy and safety of women and girls, religious freedom and free speech in Lincoln, Nebraska.”