Nebraska Attorney General Signs onto brief asking the Supreme Court to rule it is legal to fire LGBTQ people

For Immediate Release: August 27, 2019

Lincoln, NE- Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on August, 23 2019 asking the court to rule against three individuals who had been fired for being LGBTQ. The employees in these cases, including ACLU clients Aimee Stephens who was fired for being transgender and Don Zarda who was fired for being gay, have argued that discrimination against LGBTQ people is unlawful sex discrimination. A number of federal appeals courts have ruled that the Civil Rights Act and other federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination apply to LGBTQ people, as have dozens of state and district courts. The cases will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on October 8. 

“Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson’s decision to lead the charge in support of discrimination is out-of-touch with the majority of fair minded Nebraskans and Nebraska business leaders who believe no one should be fired because of who they are. This cruel and divisive decision does nothing to strengthen our state’s economy or  grow our workforce. The ACLU is proud to stand in solidarity with our transgender Nebraska neighbors who seek nothing more than fair treatment,” Danielle Conrad, Executive Director, ACLU of Nebraska. 

“As Midwestern people we tend to treat others the way we want to be treated – with fairness. However, there will always be those who only do the right thing when instructed by the law. That’s why nondiscrimination policies for gay and transgender people are needed more than ever. We need to clearly illustrate that we want to attract and retain young talent across the state. Nebraska’s workforce isn’t served by the divisive position of Attorney General Peterson. OutNebraska will continue to work for policies that treat all Nebraskans fairly so that our gay and transgender neighbors can work to provide for their families,” Abbi Swatsworth, Executive Director OutNebraska.

“Discrimination in the workplace is unfortunately an all too common occurrence for the LGBTQ+ communities in Nebraska. From a 2010 statewide survey my research team conducted, a third of all LGBTQ+ Nebraskans who responded had experienced discrimination in the workplace. While these data are now almost 10 years old, we see evidence that little to nothing has changed. In our new statewide survey that is still currently in data collection, 33% of LGBTQ+ Nebraskans report unfair treatment from coworkers and 31% report unfair treatment from employers, bosses, and supervisors. Experiences of discrimination are related to higher levels of symptoms of depression, pointing to public health policy needs as well as an economic policy needs. LGBTQ+ Nebraskans deserve to work in places free of discrimination, and deserve leaders who will call for the protection of all identities in the workplace,” Dr. Jay Irwin Associate Professor of Sociology, Graduate Program Chair, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, University of Nebraska at Omaha.

“We all want the same rights at work. Allowing firings based on sex discrimination sets a dangerous precedent against any natural expression not in line with an employer’s personal beliefs. A ruling for discrimination against LGBTQ people’s right to equal treatment in employment would be a travesty of justice threatening broader civil liberties and civil rights as well,” Andira Losh, Founder, Common Root.      

“While Nebraska continues to struggle with recruitment and retention of young professionals our Attorney General’s actions undermine our shared goals to make our workforce welcoming and inclusive. This is a moral issue for working millennials like me who overwhelmingly support non-discrimination laws that protect LGBTQIA+ workers. We hire LBGTQIA+ employees in our businesses, love them as our friends, and are proud to count them as members of our family. Young professionals do not want to locate our businesses, or raise our families, in states that fight for legalized discrimination. On August 23rd our Attorney General gave yet another clear sign to people my age that Nebraska is in fact not for everyone, and we are listening,” Natalie Weiss, Lincoln, Nebraska.

“As a Nebraska Native and queer transgender man, the Attorney General of Nebraska Doug Peterson’s recent brief upsets me deeply. My guess is his choice isn’t based on facts when it comes to who I am as a transgender person and what that means. I would challenge him to educate himself on this issue. Frankly, I’m becoming increasingly more disgusted by the short-sighted choices of many of our states political leaders who consistently vote against me. Nebraska has been my home for 54 years but when leaders make choices like this I don’t feel at home. I would be happy to sit down and have a conversation with Mr. Peterson and put a human face and story on this topic for him. We are here. We are your neighbors, friends, co-workers, and constituents. I would like to invite Mr. Peterson to meet me and hear about what I have had to do to advocate for myself in the place I call home,” Eli Rigatuso, Omaha Native and Advocate.