LGBTQA+ Lincoln City Council

LGBT Consensus is Neither Possible Nor Necessary to Move Forward with Lincoln Ordinance

I’m George Wolf, an 82 year-old gay man, who’s been working on bringing a nondiscrimination ordinance to Lincoln since the early 1980s.  For the past five years, a small number of people–gay, straight, and transgender–have worked hard to have Lincoln join the hundreds of municipalities that have ended discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

On many occasions throughout these past five years, we’ve been told by some well-meaning LGBT folk that this is not the right time to bring nondiscrimination to a vote in Lincoln. We were told that in 2017; we’re being told the same thing today.

Nevertheless, during all this time we’ve worked with members of at least two City Councils who were reluctant to do anything.  Slowly but surely we were able to make the progress that led on February 14 to the City Council’s adoption of antidiscrimination language in revisions of the city’s Municipal Code.  But after a successful petition drive to force the Council either to put the issue to a city-wide vote or to rescind their action, the Council voted to rescind.  Evidently, it still wasn’t the right time.

Martin Luther King was fond of saying, “the time is always right to do the right thing.”  We’ve waited long enough.  And during all the time we’ve waited we don’t know how damaging to LGBTQ kids Lincoln’s city government’s refusal to protect them from discrimination has been. This is why we’re now circulating initiative petitions to put antidiscrimination on the November ballot.

We’ve also been told that a ballot campaign will prove to be most harmful to “the transgender community.”  Let’s be honest: there is no “transgender community.”  As Barb Baier, an out member of Lincoln’s School Board has pointed out:

“I worry that the LGBT community is being held to an unrealistic standard of community consensus, that many in the LGBT community (particularly proven leaders) are being harassed and even physically attacked, and that cisgender, heterosexual-dominated organizations feel they are speaking with the LGBT community when, in fact, they are communicating with a small sliver of the community—one whose primary objective is to stop any Fairness Ordinance from happening.”

I’ve talked about the need for cisgender, heterosexual people and organizations, though well-meaning in intent, to stop viewing the “LGBT community” as a community with consensus, or that consensus is needed to move forward in pursuit of our rights.  Just as the cisgender, heterosexual community and organizations do not agree or have consensus, the LGBT community should not be expected, even required, to achieve such consensus.

As all of you know, or should know, state legislatures across the country are passing or about to pass bills attacking transgender people, denying them medical care, penalizing their parents, keeping them from participating in competitive sports.  This is not the time for transgender people to hide or try to avoid controversy.  The controversy is already here, it’s national, and it’s all around us.  So before our legislature adopts a bill that allows state lawmakers to block a local ordinance from taking effect, Lincoln must act now to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.