There are times when something should be done simply because it’s the right thing to do.

That’s why more than 160 cities have banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

It’s no ordinary policy issue, such as approval of a bond issue for the construction of new schools.

The purpose of the fairness ordinance is to protect the rights of a minority -- in this case gay, lesbian and transgendered residents of the Capital City.

Occasionally, people are fired when an employer finds out they are gay. Or a resident might be turned away by a landlord who suspects he or she is gay. It doesn’t happen as often in this century as it did previously, but it still happens.

That sort of discrimination is wrong.

The Journal Star believes it is not incumbent upon elected representatives to put matters of right and wrong up to a communitywide vote.

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Now, some Lincoln residents want a referendum vote on the fairness ordinance. If they collect the signatures of 2,500 registered Lincoln voters by May 29, the ordinance will be put on the ballot.

It would surprise no one if they are able to collect the required number. That’s not a difficult goal to reach. A single professional petition circulator reportedly can collect about 1,000 signatures in a week.

It won’t be the first time such a question was on the ballot. In 1982, Lincoln voters turned down a gay rights amendment.

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Attitudes have changed markedly since those days. For example, today, gay and lesbian Americans are allowed to serve their country in the military without having to hide their sexual orientation.

When the change was put in place, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “Today, with implementation of the new law fully in place, we are a stronger joint force, a more tolerant force, a force of more character and more honor, more in keeping with our own values.”

Much the same sentiments can and should be said about Lincoln now that the ordinance passed on a 5-0 vote, with two members abstaining. As Councilman Carl Eskridge, who championed the ordinance, said, “This is good for Lincoln. It says this is a progressive community, open to whoever chooses to come, a welcoming city, a respectful community to live, work, play and raise families.”

The Journal Star editorial board sees no need to put the fairness ordinance to a vote, but if it does go on the ballot, the new law deserves support. It’s the right thing to do.


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