October 10, 2015

Sponsor of workplace sexual orientation bill encouraged (AUDIO)

Sen. Danielle Conrad

Sen. Danielle Conrad

The sponsor of a measure that would have added sexual orientation to the state workplace anti-discrimination laws says she’s encouraged, even though the measure died this legislative session.

State Sen. Danielle Conrad of Lincoln says, overall, she’s pleased she got the votes needed to pass LB 485, though not enough to overcome a filibuster against it.

Conrad believes the Judiciary Committee addressed the strongest objections to the bill by strengthening a religious exemption clause in the bill to include not just churches, but other religiously-based institutions, organizations, and schools.

“Striking an appropriate balance between respecting different perspectives on this matter, but insuring workplace fairness for public employees and private sector employees,” Conrad tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Much of eight hours of legislative debate on LB 485 centered on religion. Both supporters and opponents quoted the Bible and religious writings and gave testimony to their faith backgrounds as they debated the moral ramifications of passage or defeat of the measure.

Economics entered the debate as well.

Some complained that passage of the bill would add more burdensome regulation to business and invite lawsuits. Others responded that if Nebraska didn’t act, some businesses might not consider locating in the state.

LB 485 would have added sexual orientation to the list of protected classes listed in state anti-discrimination laws which includes race, color, religion, sex, disability, and national origin.

Conrad has to leave the legislature, but says the issue isn’t going anywhere.

“I will be working very hard to find a new introducer of this legislation since I’ll be leaving the legislature due to term limits,” Conrad says. “And I think that we have plenty of good candidates in that regard.”

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

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