As a new legislative session begins, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nebraska has come out in support of the passage of multiple bills that would ensure the fair and equal treatment of LGBTQIA+ Nebraskans.
LB230, introduced by State Senator Megan Hunt on Jan. 11, “[prohibits] discrimination in public accommodations and under the Nebraska Fair Housing Act on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” and the nonprofit advocacy organization has since announced that they are openly backing this bill with the full extent of their resources.
In addition, LB232, also introduced by State Senator Megan Hunt on Jan. 11, “changes provisions relating to gender designation on drivers’ licenses and state identification cards,” creating a “not specified” gender marker for those whose gender identity falls outside of the gender binary. Just as with LB230, the ACLU is strongly supporting this bill as well.
Since her election in 2018, Hunt, who identifies as bisexual and was the first openly LGBTQ+ person elected to the state legislature of Nebraska, has been a staunch supporter of advancing LGBTQ+ rights in the state.
“I am continuing the charge for LGBTQ+ equality in Nebraska with bills to allow gender neutral licenses, ban conversion therapy, and prohibit discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations,” Hunt posted on her Facebook page the same day she introduced bills LB230 and LB232.
Both bills are meant to build off of the Supreme Court’s decision on Bostock v. Clayton County in June 2020, which stated that “an employer who fires an individual based on their sexual orientation or gender identity violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” LB230, for example, takes things a step further by granting those same protections to housing and public accommodations.
Sara Rips, LGBTQIA+ Legal and Policy Counsel for the ACLU of Nebraska, believes that these two bills can help Nebraska better live up to its official state motto – “Equality before the law.”
“All Nebraskans deserve fair treatment in all areas of public life,” Rips said. “These updates to our laws would help ensure LGBTQIA+ Nebraskans have the same opportunities as everyone else – whether that’s something as fundamental as access to housing or as simple as a driver’s license that properly reflects their truest self.”
Rips, who was hired by the ACLU with support from the Omaha Community Foundation’s Equality Fund in July 2020, serves as the state’s first full-time civil rights attorney solely focused on LGBTQIA+ rights. As this becomes a major focus area of the ACLU of Nebraska, she has been at the forefront of the fight.
In the coming weeks, Nebraskans will have to wait and see if either LB230 or LB232 gain any traction in the state legislature, but regardless, the ACLU of Nebraska will march on with their mission.
“The ACLU of Nebraska believes in a Nebraska where LGBTQIA+ people can live openly, where identities, relationships, and families are respected, and where fair treatment does not depend on who you are or whom you love,” the organization said.