Heartland Clergy for Inclusion

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Equal Employment Ordinance

January 5, 2012

Written by Scott Jones

Omaha’s Equal Employment Ordinance will be reintroduced this month.  Here is the website of the coalition, including Heartland Clergy, which is supporting the effort.  EqualOmaha.org will be a central place for information, calendar of events, and ways to contact the City Council and show your support for the ordinance.

Please share the link to EqualOmaha.org with your friends, colleagues, and social networks.

Equal Employment Ordinance Talking Points

December 16, 2011

Written by Scott Jones

Talking Points for Ordinance


1)      Large percentages of LGBT people report discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
A 2011 report by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force on discrimination against transgender persons discovered that:

  • Forty-seven percent (47%) said they had experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being fired, not hired or denied a promotion because of being transgender or gender non-conforming.
  • Over one-quarter (26%) reported that they had lost a job due to being transgender or gender non-conforming and 50% were harassed.

From a report by the Williams Institute:

On a national level, a large body of research finds that many LGBT people report experiences of discrimination in the workplace.  Fifteen studies conducted since the mid-1990s have found that 15-43 percent of LGBT respondents experienced discrimination in the workplace.  For example, a 2007 survey found that 16 percent of lesbians and gay men and 5 percent of bisexual people reported being fired or denied

a job because of their sexual orientation.  Numerous local community surveys of LGBT people find that sexual orientation discrimination is also commonly reported in those areas.


The 2008 General Social Survey, which is a recent national survey, included questions about discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  This survey found that 37 percent of gay and lesbian people reported workplace harassment in the last five years, and 12 percent reported losing a job because of their sexual orientation.


When transgender people are surveyed separately, they report similar or higher levels of employment discrimination.  In 2009, the largest national survey of transgender people to date included people from every state in the U.S.  The survey revealed that 97% of the 6,450 people surveyed had experienced harassment or mistreatment at work, and 47% had been discriminated against in hiring, promotion, or job retention because of their gender identity.


Eleven local surveys of transgender people conducted between 1996 and 2006 found that at least 20% and as many as 57% reported having experienced some form of employment discrimination. A 2009 survey of transgender people living in California found that 67% reported experiences with workplace harassment or discrimination directly related to their gender identity.

2)      Employment discrimination hurts businesses.  When LGBT employees fear discrimination in the workplace, they hide their identity, have less job-satisfaction, and are less productive. 
(The above linked Williams Institute report has research on this point as well.)

3)      Nondiscrimination laws protect employees and assist businesses in recruiting and retaining employees.
From a 2005 study by Lambda Legal:

  • 54% of respondents reported that whether an employer promotes workplace equality and fairness through policies and practices is a “critical” factor when making choices about where to work.
  • 48% of respondents reported that the existence of local and state laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace is a “critical” factor in deciding where to live.

4)      Nondiscrimination policies are good for business, impacting innovation and creativity and doing business well in the current global marketplace.
Read the statements of companies supporting non-discrimination policies.

5)      Nondiscrimination policies are the mainstream of corporate practice in the United States.

From the 2011 HRC Corporate Equality Index:

Eighty-nine percent of the Fortune 500 include “sexual orientation” in their non-discrimination policies and 43 percent include “gender identity.” The majority of the Fortune 500 – 57 percent – offer partner benefits and 41 percent offer at least one transgender-inclusive health-related benefit.

6)      Municipal nondiscrimination ordinances are the mainstream for cities in the United States.
A majority of Americans now live in municipalities or states with laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.  139 municipalities bar discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity in public and private employment.  Some municipalities are going beyond employment non-discrimination.  For example, St. Louis now requires all contractors with the local government to amend their equal employment opportunity or non-discrimination policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

7) Data collected from states that have already adopted non-discrimination laws protecting LGBT employees show that such laws do not overwhelm enforcement agencies or courts.

From a report by the Williams Institute:

A 2008 national study of data from 1999-2007 identified the average annual number of sexual orientation complaints for all states with protection for sexual orientation in the

workplace at just over 1,200, versus race and sex complaints at 11,500 and 13,800, respectively.  That study estimated that for every 10,000 LGB workers, there are

approximately 5 complaints filed on the basis of sexual orientation per year.

8) Nebraska residents strongly support basic civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. 
According to a poll of Nebraskans conducted in summer 2011:

  • A 73 percent majority of Nebraska residents recognize discrimination is a problem in our country and 32 percent describe it as a major problem.
  • In the state of Nebraska, as is the case in 29 other states, it is perfectly legal to fire someone for being gay.  This reality does not sit well with Nebraska residents, as 73 support protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.
  • In the city of Omaha support increases to 78 percent.

9) Sexual orientation and gender identity and expression are existing categories in federal and state law.

Though no federal or Nebraska employment non-discrimination laws have passed, these categories do exist as protected categories under hate crimes legislation and are recognized legal categories in a wide-range of statutes and executive orders that include military, hospital, immigration, and federal employment policies.  Plus there is now over 40 years of municipal experience with these as protected categories.


Finally, the federal 9th circuit court has ruled unanimously that Arizona denied same-sex couples their rights under the equal protection clause of the U. S. Constitution by attempting to take away their domestic partner health benefits.  The court ruled that the only interest the state showed was a “desire to harm a politically unpopular group.”  This establishes further federal legal precedence that LGBT persons are protected as such under the fourteenth amendment.


VOICE Omaha looking for stories of employment discrimination

December 16, 2011

Written by Scott Jones

The group VOICE Omaha is collecting stories of employment discrimination.  If you have a story to share, please post it on their website here.

Sample Letter to City Council

December 16, 2011

Written by Scott Jones

In January the Equal Employment Ordinance will be reintroduced to the Omaha City Council.  Heartland Clergy is encouraging people of faith to write letters in support the ordinance and mail them to the City Council.  Below is a sample letter that you can use as a template.






Omaha City Council

1819 Farnam Street, Suite LC-1

Omaha, NE 68183


Members of the City Council,

I am writing in support of, and asking you to vote for, the upcoming city ordinance which will add sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity as additional protected categories under the City of Omaha’s prohibitions against discriminatory employment practices.

Freedom from discrimination is the right of all people and we should strive to see that everyone in our community is treated with fairness and equality.

As a person of faith, I find no basis from within my faith to condemn or deny the rights of any person based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.  Rather, my faith compels me to embrace the full inclusion of all people regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

[EXTRA PARAGRAPH FOR THOSE FROM OPEN AND AFFIRMING CHURCHES]  My local congregation [NAME] and/or my national denomination [NAME] is welcoming and inclusive of all persons regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.  By welcoming and affirming all persons we bear witness to that spirit of hospitality and love which rests at the core of our religious identity.

My faith further compels me to work for an end to all religious and civil discrimination against any person. All laws must include and protect the freedoms, rights, and equal legal standing of all persons.






Heartland Clergy Interviews

November 16, 2011

Written by Scott Jones

The Oklahoma City-based podcast Oklahoma: Inside Out has recently interviewed two Heartland clergy who have signed the Heartland Proclamation.

Rev. Dr. Kathy McCallie of Church of the Open Arms UCC in Oklahoma City discusses the bible and sexuality among other topics.

Rev. Dr. Scott Jones of First Central Congregational United Church of Christ in Omaha discusses the Heartland Proclamation and Heartland Clergy for Inclusion winning the Flag Bearer Award from PFLAG.

You can also listen to an interview with Randy Roberts Potts, the grandson of evangelist Oral Roberts, as he discusses coming out as a gay man in the Roberts family and coping with his family’s homophobia.

Welcome to the Heartland Clergy for Inclusion’s presentation of The Heartland Proclamation. Join us in an ongoing conversation about God’s unconditional love for all people and about advocation of justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.