I’m not a fan of Governor Ricketts. He used his daddy’s money to buy his office, and in spite of having a lovely wife and family, he continues to do what daddy tells him to do. This is no longer his daddy’s Nebraska, and it’s time the Governor put on his big boy pants and start becoming his own man. Right now, he has an opportunity to step-up and do just that.
Senator Patty Pansing Brooks introduced Legislative Bill 627 and has the verbal support of a Unicameral majority, but the support is not filibuster or veto proof. LB 627 would provide to gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender workers the same anti-discrimination protection that individuals have for reasons of race, religion, sex, disability, marital status and national origin. In substance, it is not all that controversial, at least not for Nebraskans who appreciate their friends, family and neighbors for who they are.
“Nebraska Competes”, an area business coalition, is supporting the measure and pushing for other Nebraska businesses to join the effort. The reason for their support is that they believe Nebraska needs this anti-discrimination law to compete for workforce talent nationwide. At present, 25 states have similar laws prohibiting workforce discrimination, and the LGBTQ+ community knows exactly which states have the laws and which states do not. And, that’s not to mention a millennial generation who feels very strongly about anti-discrimination protections. They are the most technically inclined generation and represent the largest share of the nation’s workforce. These laws matter to them.
The impression trying to be put forward by advocates of the religious right, who fight these anti-discrimination laws, is that they are a burden on business and inevitably discriminate against people of faith. The real reason is that these extremists want everyone to conform to their very narrow view of morality. Fortunately, the business community did not get their memo. The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce and young professional organizations in Omaha and Lincoln all endorse LB 627.
One of the arguments the religious-right advances is the idea that this is all about men who dress as women, who want the legal right to gain access to women’s bathrooms. I’ll let you wrap your head around that nonsense for a moment. The truth is that this law is about nothing more than protecting people in the workplace from discrimination - the same as we would anyone else. A lot of garbage is put out these days. I understand people feeling a little uncertain, but this law is intended to protect not harm. It's about tolerance and fairness, and if it were all that dangerous, you wouldn’t have conservative leaning groups like the Chamber of Commerce chiming in with their support. But don’t take our word for it. Omaha passed the same sort of anti-discriminatory law back in 2017, and the last I heard, the city still stands!
The way it looks right now is that Senator Pansy Brooks needs about six more votes to guarantee this measure becomes law. At present, it appears Governor Ricketts opposes it. The time is now to start talking to your family and friends, and calling your Senator. Write a letter to the editor, but don't start your comments like I did, questioning the Governor's manhood. Instead, appeal calmly to the logic of protecting good people from workplace discrimination and looking out for the interests of Nebraska business. Maybe, if we all get after this in a positive way, he’ll discover his place in a modern Nebraska.
Photo provided courtesy of kentax.com.