• Follow along live: World-Herald reporter Leslie Reed is posting live tweets from the meeting
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LINCOLN -- Supporters of an ordinance to protect gay and transgender people from discrimination will make their case to the Lincoln City Council at a public hearing that begin about 3 p.m. today.
If the ordinance is passed, Lincoln would join more than 160 other cities that protect gay and transgender people from discrimination in employment. The ordinance also would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for housing and public accommodations.
A vote is planned for May 14.
Omaha passed a similar ordinance in March. Last week, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning issued an opinion that Omaha lacked authority to pass such an ordinance. Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler and City Attorney Rod Confer said they disagreed with the opinion and that they would press forward with Lincoln's proposal.
At Monday's hearing, members of a community task force that developed the proposed ordinance will lead off the testimony, presenting a case that most Nebraska support “workplace fairness” for gay and transgender people.
Al Riskowski, executive director of the Nebraska Family Council, said his organization has been urging those with questions or concerns to attend Monday's hearing, although he is unsure how many will turn out.
His group opposes discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity, he said. However, he questions creating a legally protected class of people based on behavior and sexual morality. He said that sets up conflict with religious organizations that have their own codes of sexual morality.
“We've encouraged everyone to be very respectful,” Riskowski said. “We don't agree with ordinance, but we don't do it in a way that's unkind.”
Ron Brown, an assistant Nebraska football coach, said he did not plan to attend Monday's hearing. Brown was chastised by his superiors after he testified against the Omaha ordinance without making clear that his views were personal and did not reflect the University of Nebraska-Lincoln or the Husker Athletic Department.
In a letter to the editor of The World-Herald, submitted Monday, he said he wholeheartedly agrees with UNL's non-discrimination policy.
He said that although he considers it a sin for heterosexual players to engage in sex outside marriage, he does not penalize or discriminate against his players because of it.
“Because I love them, I've invested in them even outside football and gently asked them to consider God's view on it,” Brown said. “If I coached a gay player, because the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, I would do the same. If he didn't agree, I wouldn't penalize him with playing time or any form of discrimination.
“I have and will embrace every player I coach, gay or straight,” Brown wrote. “But I won't embrace a legal policy that supports a lifestyle that God calls sin.”
Brown signed the letter as a “private citizen of Nebraska.”
Follow along live with the ordinance hearing as World-Herald reporter Leslie Reed tweets from the meeting