All’s Fair in Lincoln

May 15, 2012 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The so-called “Fairness Ordinance” received City Council approval yesterday. It expands Lincoln’s civil rights protections to homosexuals and transgendered folks. The measure passed 5-0, with the two Republican members of the council—Adam Hornung and Jon Camp—abstaining. Hornung cited his belief that the ordinance violates state law as the justification for his abstention.

I have so far stayed away from this issue, for several reasons. The most prominent, and perhaps lamest, is that I’ve just been too busy to do justice to such a complicated issue. And yes, despite what folks on either side may want to believe, it is immensely complicated. You’ve got different groups’ rights pitted against one another; confusion over state law; a desire by many to put the issue to a public vote; an interaction with the national debate on gay marriage; and so on. The matter had been dubbed the “Fairness Ordinance” by supporters, but “fairness” to gays is just one part of this complex story.

The ordinance’s passage is, on the whole, a good thing for Lincoln. It’s a step that puts Lincoln on the right side of a civil rights struggle that one can’t help but feel has generated enough momentum to be slowable but not stoppable. Lincoln can’t be both progressive and on the wrong side of this battle. It’s one or the other.

That being said, I don’t have high hopes that this ordinance will actually go into effect. Opponents will get the necessary signatures—just 2,500 or so—to force the matter to a vote, and if I were a betting man, I’d bet that voters will shoot it down handily. Who votes? Old people. Who likes this ordinance? Young people. It’s a simplification, but one that holds up pretty darn well across elections. Perhaps I’m wrong, but we’ll all find out soon enough.

The other night The Missus and I sat on the couch talking about a variety of topics. I brought up that there was a time in my life that I believed we were living in a time “beyond” history. We had won the major struggles, we had learned from our mistakes, and it was all (relatively) smooth sailing from here on out. Realizing how wrong I was was a critical, paradigm-shifting moment for me. It’s both fascinating and frightening to view current events as history-in-the-making. We’re just as foolish as anybody at any other time in history.

I wonder which side of the story Lincoln will be on in textbooks written fifty years from now?

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