Petition drive to bring Fairness Ordinance wording to November ballot

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 10:26 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - It looks like there’s new life for what’s known as the Fairness Ordinance, which died last week in a close Lincoln City Council decision.

A group called “Let Lincoln Vote” officially filed to start collecting signatures to get the same change to city code on the November ballot.

The wording is taken right off the page of what previously passed in February and was later rescinded by the Lincoln City Council.

Wednesday afternoon the group was told they could start collecting what it hopes will eventually be about 9,000 signatures in Lincoln.

If they collect enough, it will only be on the ballot of Lincoln voters. According to city code, an initiative requires 5% of registered voters from the last City General Election, which was in May 2021 and included about 180,000 registered voters in Lincoln.

“Lincoln is a city of anti-discrimination and we want people to be able to vote on anti-discrimination language in the city code,” said Kay Siebler with Let Lincoln Vote. “Over 400 cities across the nation have done similar things with their city code so were just getting Lincoln into the 21st Century.”

The objective of this initiative is to protect people from discrimination regarding military status, veteran status, disability, race, national origin, marital status, and sex.

“It’s an absolutely grassroots organization,” Siebler said. “We will embrace and include anybody who wants to help us.”

Many in the LGBTQIA+ community have also voiced concerns about pushback against the Fairness Ordinance. A campaign led by the Nebraska Family Alliance collected 18,000 signatures causing the City Council to vote to rescind the entire ordinance.

Wednesday, those with the ballot initiative said they’re not expecting any counter-campaigns.

“We can’t anticipate what people that are opposed to anti-discrimination would do, but I know that a vast majority of Lincoln are people who don’t want to discriminate,” Siebler said.

If enough signatures are submitted, the Lancaster County Election Commissioner expects to verify signatures in September. If there are enough, the Lincoln City Council can either vote to enact the petition or be forced to put it on the November ballot for voters to decide.

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