Your Voice Was Heard: A People’s Victory At City Hall

Roughly 90 minutes into deliberation over Ben Gray’s Equal Employment Ordinance, it felt as though the collective hearts of many Omahans were paralyzed. It still wasn’t’ clear how the vote would turn out. And then roll call. The key vote, much like in 2010, was hanging on Garry Gernandt. Back then, he said no. He didn’t have enough information. This year…he voted yes.

In doing so, he joined Ben Gray, Chris Jerram and Pete Festersen in being on the right side of history. He joined them in standing up for what is right. He joined them in taking Omaha one step closer to being the world-class city that it deserves to be, that it aspires to be, that it can be. Our community has taken a meaningful step to stand up against intolerance.

Yesterday was a huge day for Omaha and a big day for you: the over 1,600 people that make up VOICE Omaha. Yet it wasn’t our victory alone; we couldn’t be more pleased to have been involved in the Equal Omaha Coalition. Several months ago, a discussion about LGBT workplace equality started amongst a small group of people and eventually grew into the Equal Omaha Coalition. Individuals, organizations, and businesses pooled our collective resources to make this happen.

Our collective formula for success, which was touched on in Equal Omaha’s statement following the 4–3 vote yesterday, is very simple: illuminate the need, identify and back-up the solution with facts, and coalesce support. (Rinse and Repeat.)

One thing that became very clear through much of the Equal Employment Ordinance debate was that the opposition did not have the people of Omaha on their side nor the facts to support their case. We did. And despite some late-in-the-game politics, the people won out. That’s how it’s supposed to work. A movement of the people, coupled with some good, hard facts, won out. Not politics. Democracy at its best.

There are many challenging issues in front of us, but today is a day to celebrate the important milestone that Omaha achieved yesterday thanks to the collective and tireless work of so many political and civic leaders, dedicated organizations, and everyday people. We’ll let you know* when it’s time to get started on the next community-altering project. Bask in the success, Omaha. You deserve it.

Viva VOICE! Viva a more realized Equal Omaha!

*Please become a “member” of VOICE. It doesn’t cost a dime. The larger the numbers, the stronger we are. Sign up. Stay in touch. Stay involved.