The Nebraska Legislature will once again debate a bill that would create a new protected class for sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). This year, its bill number is LB173.

A protected class for sexual orientation and gender identity would be unlike any other protected class. Plus, contrary to proponent claims, legislation like LB173 is not used stop discrimination – it is used to silence dissent.

These laws empower the government to punish people who object to  promoting messages or participating in events that conflict with their beliefs.

While tensions rise and activists proclaim that this law is inevitable, the facts tell a different story. Lawmakers and voters across the country are rejecting these laws because of the serious harms to religious freedom, conscience rights, privacy and personal liberty.

  • In 2016 alone, in addition to Nebraska, 14 other legislatures including Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, and Kansas rejected such legislation. [1]
  • In the past two years, more than 70 separate SOGI bills have failed across the country. [1]
  • Further, in recent years, citizens in multiple cities have actually voted to repeal such laws after witnessing their harmful effects.[1]  Even the city of Houston, who elected an openly lesbian mayor, overwhelmingly voted to repeal a SOGI law after it was passed by their city council.

We don’t oppose these laws because of things proponents say they will do, such as ensuring equality, justice, and stopping discrimination. We oppose them because of the things they actually do: compromise religious freedom, violate privacy rights, and shut-down faith-based organizations and private businesses.

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Despite the claims by some that the addition of these classifications is necessary if a city or state wants to grow its economy, the facts indicate otherwise. There is no evidence that the absence of these laws has any effect on job creation and economic growth. Comparatively, numerous studies suggest that states without these classifications may actually have greater economic growth, while states with them have comparatively weaker economies and slower job growth.

We all agree arbitrary discrimination is wrong. But that’s not what LB173 is about. This bill would exchange the consistent kindness and tolerance of Nebraskans for a law that would use the full force of government to punish those who hold different beliefs on marriage and sexuality.

Reasonable people can reasonably disagree. Good Nebraskans should not have their jobs nor their livelihood threatened for disagreeing with the government about marriage.

All laws must respect the freedoms of every citizen, no matter who they are. The idea that all laws should be fair to every citizen should unite us on common ground, and laws like LB173 that single out and punish citizens on the basis of their peacefully expressed beliefs should be rejected.

[1] James Gottry. SOGI Laws: A Subversive Response to a Nonexistent Problem. Public Discourse. Sept. 2016.


Nate Grasz

Nate Grasz

Policy Director
Nate is the Policy Director at Nebraska Family Alliance and host of the Capitol Report program.