GI Council Overrides Mayoral Veto Approving LGBT Protections


The city of Grand Island approved in dramatic fashion Tuesday night an amendment protecting LGBTs from discrimination in the city hiring process. The amendment required two-thirds of the council overriding a mayoral veto of the proposal.

Councilman Larry Carney proposed the amendment, just one month after he proposed a similar citywide amendment that failed in an 8-2 vote.

Tuesday, many of the same people that spoke in favor of the previous amendment once again spoke in favor of the revised amendment.

The new amendment changes ‘sex' to ‘sexual orientation' in the City of Grand Island's Personnel Rules and Regulations §1.03, which states:

The City of Grand Island affirms its commitment to providing a work environment that does not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices on the basis of race,color, religion, sex, mental or physical disability, marital status, national origin, orgenetic information. The City will operate in full compliance with applicable federal, state, and local laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. This policy governs all aspects of employment, including selection, job assignment, compensation, discipline, termination, and access to benefits and training. Anyone found to be engaging in any type of unlawful discrimination will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

The amendment was originally approved in a 6-4 vote, with council members Carney, Ramsey, Minton, Donaldson, Gericke and Niemann voting in favor. Council members Nickerson, Gilbert, Dugan and Haase voted the amendment down.

Many of the same reasons were given for both sides of the issue. Council President Peg Gilbert said it's not a local issue, Councilman Haase said it was inappropriate for the city to take action on what he saw as a state and federal issue. Councilman Carney argued it was the right thing to do, alongside council members Ramsey and Donaldson.

But, the 6-4 vote was not the end of the debate. Immediately following the results of the council vote, Mayor Jay Vavricek took over proceedings declaring the issue not done with discussion. At that point he asked each council member who voted in favor to restate their reasons for their decision.

Councilman Gericke said in his six year tenure he had never seen anyone ask the council to do this. Although it was a rare event, all council members both for and against obliged the mayor in his request.

At the end of their restatements, the mayor vetoed the measure citing the need for more public feedback.

At that point, Councilman Carney made a motion to override the mayor's veto. When the council took a vote, two members Nickerson and Haase, joined the other six original members in favor of the measure. Nickerson said, although he was on the losing end of the argument, he respected the majority's decision and would approve the override.

That move, gave the two-thirds majority needed to approve the amendment against the mayor's will. Council members Gilbert and Dugan voted against overriding the mayoral veto.