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Drive for Repeal Vote on Omaha Nondiscrimination Law Falls Short

By Trudy Ring

A petition drive to put a repeal of Omaha’s LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination ordinance before voters in May has come up short, organizers said Thursday.

“The Omaha Liberty Project, sponsor of the petition effort, needed to submit roughly 11,400 valid resident signatures to the city today to potentially force a vote in May’s general election,” the Omaha World-Herald reported Friday.

Patrick Bonnett, the group’s executive director, said organizers didn’t gather enough signatures to leave a cushion for possibly invalid ones. “We’ve got to be pretty darn close to the number we need,” he told the World-Herald. “Darn close, but we just didn’t get it.” He said the group plans to try again, although next year would be the earliest a measure could go before voters.

The City Council passed the ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment or public accommodations, by a 5-4 vote last March. A public hearing on the ordinance last year saw testimony from about 100 people, including University of Nebraska assistant football coach Ron Brown, who opposed it, and filmmaker Alexander Payne (The Descendants, Sideways), an Omaha native, who supported it.

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