Council amendment would protect GLBT citizens State laws protect gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered individuals from discrimination in 21 states and the District of Columbia. But not in Nebraska. More than 110 cities have adopted local anti-discrimination ordinances, but none in our state. But a proposal by City Councilman Ben Gray could change that by amending municipal code to add “sexual identity, gender expression and gender identity” to an ordinance already protecting people from discrimination based on race, religion, sex, marital status or age. Pastor Tom Emmett of Omaha’s Metropolitan Community Church said the city has a valuable opportunity to start changing some conservative perceptions of the state. “I think that, over a period of time, progressive laws lead to progressive attitudes,” Emmett said. “This decision is important if Omaha wants to consider itself a 21st-century city on par with the best this country has to offer.” In 2007, Iowa and Colorado passed state laws offering discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Council Bluffs, Iowa, added a similar city ordinance in 2008. While equitable laws have moved closer to Nebraska, Gray said a handful of employment discrimination reports led him to push for the change. Emmett has seen the same problems among his parishioners. “A number of the people in my parish are out in public except when they’re at work,” he said. “They can’t have the photo of their loved one on their desk, and that doesn’t seem right to me.” The City Council moved to lay over the decision on the amendment Tuesday at the request of city attorneys. They will vote on the measure Oct. 26. If passed, the ordinance would take effect 15 days later. — Brandon Vogel

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