The Lincoln City Council should place the proposed fairness ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, on either the May city election ballot or the November 2020 ballot, mayoral candidate Jeff Kirkpatrick said this week.
“It’s long overdue for the city of Lincoln to do the right thing and put the fairness ordinance on the ballot,” Kirkpatrick said in a news release.
“Since 2012 the members of the City Council have been punting on the fairness ordinance,” said Kirkpatrick, pointing out that nearly every member of the council, including mayoral candidates Cyndi Lamm and Leirion Gaylor Baird, have publicly endorsed the idea of letting Lincoln residents decide this issue.
“It’s time to let the people vote,” he said.
Almost seven years ago the City Council passed the fairness ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, employment and public accommodations.
But a referendum petition suspended the change from going into effect without city voters weighing in.
Since that time the City Council has not addressed the issue by either repealing the ordinance or scheduling it for a vote, Kirkpatrick noted.
Kirkpatrick said the council could put the issue on either the 2019 or 2020 ballot. Waiting until 2020 would provide more time to raise funds and allow those interested to organize a campaign, he said.
“Whether you support the ordinance or not isn’t the issue. It’s about leadership and responsibility. The City Council has an obligation to let citizens weigh in on the fairness ordinance,” said Kirkpatrick, who says he believes Lincoln voters would approve the fairness ordinance.
“True leaders take action and get things done. They don’t just talk,” Kirkpatrick said as he criticized the two other mainstream candidates for mayor, Lamm and Gaylor Baird.
“They have had sufficient time to act and they haven’t done it. I’m simply asking them to do their job,” Kirkpatrick said.
Lamm said she would have to take another look at the specific language of the ordinance before deciding whether to vote to put the issue on the ballot.
Gaylor Baird, who has endorsed and worked on a proposed state law that would prohibit this kind of discrimination, said she was disappointed Kirkpatrick was using this issue to try to score political points.
Gaylor Baird said she would rather see anti-discrimination legislation passed at the state level, as would many in the LGBTQ community.
“I’m taking my cues from the LGBTQ community, not my campaign manager,” she said.
Kirkpatrick said the anti-discrimination policy has wide support from different ideologies and backgrounds.
"The Chamber of Commerce supports it for the same reason I do. We want to attract and retain the best and brightest workers to Lincoln,” he said.