The Central Nebraska Human Rights Coalition is a new Grand Island-based organization with the mission of promoting equal opportunities and equal rights for all central Nebraska residents.
The CNHRC is forming in response to recent and past actions by the Grand Island City Council.
"While equality supporters were disappointed by the recent rejection of protection for LGBT citizens by the City Council, we were even more shocked and dismayed to learn that the City Council completely struck the civil rights chapter from city code in 2006," said organizer Todd Ruhter.
"There is no local civil rights code to protect women, seniors, Hispanics, disabled people, veterans or other minority classes from discrimination in housing or employment. G.I. residents were asleep at the wheel in 2006, and we want to remedy the situation," said Ruhter.
Following the City Council vote on October 9th, a small group of equality supporters began discussing the importance of having civil rights protections in local code, in addition to protections provided by state and federal laws.
"Civil rights protections are clearly important for potential victims of housing or employment discrimination, but they are just as important in projecting a positive image of our community to businesses and people considering relocating here," said CNHRC member Jill Liske-Clark.
Clark said "There is a reason why nearly all Fortune 500 companies have equal opportunity policies that go beyond what is required by law. That's one way they attract the best and brightest workers."
After getting energized in a few informal meetings over the last few weeks, equality supporters decided to form the CNHRC. Guillermo Pena, CNHRC member, offered the motto for the organization "Equality before the law", taken from the official State of Nebraska motto.
While the CNHRC's current focus is Grand Island, the organization plans to be active throughout the Tri-Cities area. Equality-minded citizens and organizations are invited to join the Coalition.
The CNHRC's first official meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m., Thursday, November 8. Call Todd Ruhter (402) 902-0153 for meeting location and more information.