Equal Opportunity & Social Mobility

Equal Opportunity & Social Mobility, News

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

MEDIA ADVISORY

Equal Omaha Coalition Responds to City Council Resolution Introduction

To: Media Outlets

Re: Response to Councilmembers Mulligan, Gernandt and Stothert’s Resolution

The Equal Omaha Coalition appreciates the sentiments of Councilmembers Mulligan, Gernandt and Stothert with their newly proposed Resolution. We share the Omaha City Council’s goal to “eliminate any workplace discrimination” and that “all people possess an innate human dignity that must be acknowledged and respected by all persons.”

This Resolution is an ideal prelude to Councilmember Gray’s Equal Employment Ordinance scheduled to be introduced later this month. We look forward to working with the Omaha City Council to pass the upcoming ordinance prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The proposed Resolution is an acknowledgment that discrimination against the LGBT community is indeed a problem. The Resolution is a good first step but ultimately is not a viable solution to the issues of discrimination in Omaha and therefore, must be followed by the passage of Councilmember Gray’s Equal Employment Ordinance.

This Resolution cannot be used to ensure that a partnered mother of two is not fired for having a family photo on her desk, or that a recent graduate from college will decide to leave Omaha simply because they do not feel that the city has taken the proper steps to protect their future employment. Therefore, it is imperative that once the Resolution is passed, the City Council continues this inclusive momentum by passing the Equal Employment Ordinance in early March.

In essence, the resolution acknowledges a persistent problem; the ordinance will provide the solution. We urge these City Councilmembers and the rest of the City Council to vote YES on Councilmember Gray’s upcoming Equal Employment Ordinance.

The Equal Omaha Coalition is a collaborative effort between Citizens for Equal Protection, Heartland Clergy for Inclusion, VOICE Omaha, Conference for Inclusive Communities, Nebraska AIDS Project, Nebraska Gay Youth Network, Anti-Defamation League, and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

MEDIA CONTACT
Michael Gordon
402.714.3810

To learn more you can visit the coalition page at www.equalomaha.org for more information.

Download a .pdf of the press release.

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Equal Opportunity & Social Mobility

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Today notable Nebraska musicians, including Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, shared a letter of opposition to Beau McCoy’s proposed Legislative Bill 912. We’re reposting it here in its entirety.

January 23, 2012

RE: Legislative Bill 912

Dear Senators,

We are musicians who have chosen to live in the Omaha community. Our work has had national and international media attention, and when we tour around the country and around the world, we want to be proud to say that we’ve come from Omaha, Nebraska. It’s extremely important to us that the policies of our community reflect our values.

We were excited to learn that Councilman Ben Gray was going to put forth a citywide ordinance that would ensure equal employment opportunity for all, including our LGBT community.  Progressive cities attract eager newcomers, both young professionals and artists, which in turn creates growth and economic prosperity.  We firmly believe that Omaha is a vibrant city and can continue to be a top US destination for business and the arts, but only if we provide the same protections that other major cities do for every one of their citizens.

Senator Beau McCoy has recently proposed a legislative bill (LB 912) that will effectively squash Councilman Gray’s Equal Employment Ordinance before the City Council of Omaha will even have the chance to vote on it.  We find this deplorable and unacceptable. LB 912 will send the message to the world that Nebraska is not forward thinking or welcoming, which would be detrimental to our community’s current momentum and future growth.

A lot of the recent national press surrounding Omaha has revolved around the strength of our burgeoning art scene and the economic growth that has resulted from it.  Passage of LB 912 will likely cause the attrition of some of our community’s best and brightest; it will certainly deter outsiders from exploring opportunities in Omaha.

We want to continue to be proud of our community and keep our creative class and entrepreneurial spirit strong.  Please don’t let LB 912 move forward and let the state of Nebraska block the City of Omaha’s attempt to do the right thing and create equal opportunity for everyone.

Signed,

Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes)
Laura Burhenn (The Mynabirds)
Orenda Fink (Azure Ray, O+S)
Todd Fink (The Faint, Depressed Buttons)
Clark Baechle (The Faint, Depressed Buttons)
Jacob Thiele (The Faint, Depressed Buttons)
Nik Fackler (Icky Blossoms & feature film director of Lovely, Still)
Dan McCarthy (McCarthy Trenching, So So Sailors)
Stefanie Drootin Senseney (The Good Life, Big Harp & founder of Omaha Girls Rock)
Chris Senseney (Big Harp, Baby Walrus)
Benjamin Brodin (Before the Toast & Tea, producer & recording engineer at ARC studios)
Rachel Tomlinson Dick (Honeybee & Hers)
A.J. Mogis (Criteria, producer & recording engineer at ARC studios)
Melissa Amstutz (Honeybee & Hers)
Roger L. Lewis (Conduits, The Good Life, & Neva Dinova)
Jenna Morrison (Conduits, Son Ambulance)
Mike Dappen aka Dapose  (The Faint, Vverevvolf Grehv)

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Equal Opportunity & Social Mobility, News

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

“Another fight over legal protection for gays”

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Equal Opportunity & Social Mobility

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Right now, as you read, your Nebraska Legislature is deliberating over LB239 – a legislative bill that would require the presentation of government-issued photographic identification to vote in elections. This is a BAD idea. Not only would it be an expensive measure (in the midst of recession), it would likely prevent thousands of Nebraskans – many from vulnerable populations – from exercising their most basic democratic right.

Read: VOICE’s & NCR’s op-ed in today’s OWH

Learn More: Get a fact sheet about how LB239 suppresses the vote

Act: Sign the online petition opposing LB239

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Equal Opportunity & Social Mobility

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Yesterday, State Senator Beau McCoy introduced Legislative Bill 912. The bill would essentially take away Nebraska cities’ right to introduce ordinances different from the state’s current anti-discrimination policy which does not recognize the LGBT community as a protected class. The local Equal Employment Ordinance cannot move forward until the state bill is resolved.

Make no mistake about it; this bill is in direct response to the successful efforts in Omaha to create a fair and equal work environment.

We must move quickly to put an end to the bill before it goes to the floor of the legislature. So what can you do? Visit equalnebraska.org and find out which state senators to contact.

Tell them not to intrude on a city’s right to decide for itself what is right for its citizens. Tell them that you support local control and do not wish for the state legislature to interfere with our ongoing efforts to make Omaha a fair and equal place to live and work!

Stay tuned. We still need to show the Omaha City Council our support for the Equal Omaha Ordinance, but we must put an end to the state bill first.

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The Business Ethics Alliance, a consortium of organizations that are committed to creating an ethical business climate that benefits the overall community, is holding another dialogue in its “Business Ethics Mind Candy” series. The discussion will, in part, consider the ethics of considering a person’s sexual orientation when hiring.

The timing is critical as we are preparing for Ben Gray to introduce the Equal Employment Ordinance a few days beforehand. You might recognize one of the panelists as representing an entity that lobbied against a similar ordinance in 2010. Please consider attending to listen to the discussion and respectfully and thoughtfully offer your perspective during the Q&A portion. Please note, registration is required.

Here are the details:

When: January 26, 2012 from 7:30 to 8:45am (complimentary continental breakfast opens at 7:15am)
Where: Gallup, 1001 Gallup Drive

Panelists:

> Tawanna Black, CEO, Innovations by Design
> David Brown, President and CEO, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce
> Dean Hodges, Owner of local Jimmy Johns

The blurb from the Business Ethics Alliance:

Jobs! Who gets them and why? How is the hiring process informed by our values? Does ethics come into play when small, medium and large firms make hiring decisions? Do they consider a person’s veteran status? Or sexual orientation? Is it ethical to avoid hiring people who lost their jobs or those out of work for a year or two? Let’s talk about it.

Join panelists, local business professionals and moderator Beverly Kracher, Executive Director, Business Ethics Alliance; Daugherty Chair in Business Ethics & Society, Creighton University College of Business, for a thought-provoking discussion on the ethics of hiring. Come prepared to share and learn.

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Equal Opportunity & Social Mobility

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

In anticipation of the re-introduction of the equal employment ordinance in January, we wanted to provide a place for members of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender community to share their stories of discrimination. So we have created a web site to collect these stories. We recognize that there is currently not a safe place to share these stories, so this is our effort to provide one.

Share your story and read others’ stories here.

When the ordinance was initially introduced last year, some thought that Omaha had no problems with workplace discrimination because they had not heard any stories. We want to make sure that the community understands the true implications of not passing this ordinance. So please share any stories of discrimination in the workplace and how it affects your life and your decisions. And please pass this along to others – those in Omaha or those who choose not to live in Omaha because they are not treated equally.

We will review each story and post it on this site for others to read and understand what it’s like to work in a community with no protection for your rights. In addition, we will collect these stories and present them to the Omaha City Council before they vote on the ordinance.

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Equal Opportunity & Social Mobility

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Did you know that you can be fired for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender in Omaha? Employees are not protected from discrimination based on real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Join us for happy hour to hear Councilmember Ben Gray talk about re-introducing the ordinance in January and how you can help make Omaha a place where workplace decisions are based solely on merit and not who you love.

House of Loom
Tuesday, November 29th
5:00pm – 7:00pm

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There is a recent article that discusses the direct relationship between transportation, poverty and social mobility.

Here are some highlights:

“With the economy being what it is, the United States is heading into a transportation crisis for low and middle class citizens. Those able to afford cars find themselves spending more and more of their incomes on gasoline, and those without cars have to rely on public transit that is inadequate…”

“The results of a long-term study conducted by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development show that moving to a neighborhood with less than 10% of people living below the poverty line has a positive effect on health, specifically with obesity and diabetes.”

Action:

Join the conversation by attending the November 7th Modeshift Omaha meeting.

When: November 7, 2011; 6:30-8:30pm

Where: UNO CPACS Building Room 132*

*Directions for getting to the meeting:

The map of the UNO campus is here: http://www.unomaha.edu/maps/docs/UNO-2010-10.pdf. The CPACS building is in the middle of the Dodge street location marked CPC.

Metro bus #2 makes frequent stops on Dodge Street or #11 passes close by on Leavenworth street with a short walk through Elmwood park to campus: http://www.metroareatransit.com/bus-system/system-map#bus-routes

Bike racks are on the west side of the CPACS building.

If you are driving, you can park at the meters in front of the Milo Bail Student Center (MSC) or Eppley Administration Building (EAB)–in lots C or B

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Nebraska Watchdog is reporting that today J.B.  Milliken, University of Nebraska President, will propose a change to benefits of employees to the Board of Regents.  We believe this to be an important step in the continued discussion about equal rights and protections for all members of our community.

Read the full story.

Please consider telling a friend, neighbor, partner, business associate about how you feel about the issue and start a discussion.

Finally, send  Mr. Milliken (president@nebraska.edu) a note expressing your support of this important issue.  Take it a step further by emailing members of the Board of Regents.   Email addresses are contained in the link.

“Nationally, more than 300 higher education institutions offer such benefits, including public universities in at least 30 states and most of the highly ranked research universities,” he wrote. In addition, he said a number of leading private companies in Nebraska offer partner benefits, including ConAgra, Union Pacific, Mutual of Omaha, Ameritas and HDR. “I think it’s time for the University of Nebraska to do the same,” Milliken said. “We are in a global marketplace for talent and I believe that by not offering partner benefits, we will be at a competitive disadvantage. This is an issue of fairness and competitiveness not only for the University, but also for the state. If we cannot compete on par with our counterparts around the country, talented people may go elsewhere – and in fact anecdotal evidence that some of you have shared with us suggests this may already have happened. This carries significant consequences for our University and our state.”

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VOICE Omaha