Nebraska Conservatives petition to end bathroom gender identity bill, speech code

Nebraska Conservatives are seeking to block a Lincoln City Council proposal that would allow biological men who identify themselves as women to use services for women. Businesses and organizations that do not want to comply with the new rules of “gender identity” face fines.

The Lincoln-based nonprofit Nebraska Family Alliance is due to send 4,137 signatures by Monday to stop the recently updated Chapter 11 of the city, part of the Municipal Code, which covers equal opportunities.

The organization said that since February 15, the day after the city council unanimously passed the resolution, more than 250 volunteers have agitated the city door-to-door.

Council members say an expanded “justice ordinance” is needed to ban discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity, but critics say the ordinance goes far beyond protection and could be used to punish businesses or organizations that attribute more traditional beliefs.

“Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect, but this decision, despite what is called, is not about justice. It’s about ideology and silencing anyone who disagrees with those who are now in political power, “said Nate Grass, political director of the Nebraska Family Alliance.

Public enterprises and private schools under the new law are required to allow men who identify themselves as women to have access to women’s locker rooms, bathrooms and dressing rooms.

Proponents of the bill have denied reports that it also covers churches and youth sports leagues, noting that the ordinance maintains a religious exception.

“You need to be able to get a job, stay at work, find a home and go to the movies, go eat, go to the grocery store,” board member Sandra Washington, sponsor of the ordinance, told the Lincoln Journal Star in January. 27, adding that she believes it is “time for change”.

But Mr Grash said she was only partially right about religious liberation.

“The ordinance for religious employers provides for the exception of hiring and firing according to one’s beliefs, but there is nothing that would exempt the church or youth sports league from being a place of public residence that should meet the new definition of sexual harassment,” he said.

The ordinance also empowers the Lincoln Commission on Human Rights with nine members, appointed by the mayor, to hold public hearings on any complaints of “verbal or physical behavior” and to fine violators who refuse to cooperate. Fines for “discriminatory” offenses are up to $ 10,000 for the first crime, $ 25,000 for the second, and $ 50,000 for each repeat offense.

“The broad definition of sexual harassment in the ruling makes you responsible or guilty of harassment if your performance has the“ effect ”of creating a hostile environment,” Mr Grass said. “Therefore, if I do not use a person’s favorite pronouns or express a conservative Christian view of marriage or human sexuality that offends or interferes with their work, I may be liable for discriminatory acts.”

The local news station KOLN reported on February 14 that Ms. Washington, one of three outspoken gay members of the city council, which consists of seven people, admitted that opinions were divided during a public hearing a week before the vote.

“I have heard fear in many opposition statements, I know they are concerned,” Ms Washington said. “But I know these fears are unfounded and our community will not become dangerous because of this title.”

Board member Jane Reibuld said she expects the ruling to help businesses in the state capital.

“Our Chamber of Commerce and young professionals have shown that this is very important for attracting new businesses and retaining young people,” said Ms. Reibuld.

The ordinance also adds anti-discrimination protection to members of the military, veterans, people of tribal origin and divorced or divorced spouses.

Leirion Mayor Gaylor Baird, a Democrat, has called the bill a priority for his administration and is expected to sign it within 15 days.

But within 15 days of the bill being passed by the city council, a petition signed by 4% of voters who ran in the previous gubernatorial election could also suspend the law.

If successful, the Nebraska Family Alliance petition will give the council two options: repeal the bill or put it on the ballot.

“We want it on the ballot so that the city council can allow people to address this issue,” said Mr Grass, the alliance’s political director. “The response to the petition was encouraging. People pay attention and are repulsed. “

In 2012, more than 10,000 people signed a petition to terminate the previous version of the ordinance, but the city council decided to leave it alone rather than repeal or put it on the ballot.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, urged Lincoln voters in a statement this week to sign a petition to protest the updates.

“It puts girls at risk by letting men into girls’ bathrooms. This applies to private schools, not public ones. This prevents parents from helping their children who experience gender dysphoria, ”Mr Ricketts said. “And it threatens bankrupt families who instill traditional values ​​in their children – anyone who disagrees can be fined up to $ 50,000.”

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