Last edited: January 03, 2005


Housing Protection Called a Civil Right

Lincoln Journal Star, March 7, 2003
P. O. Box 81609, Lincoln, NE 68501
Fax: 402-473-7291, Email:

By Nancy Hicks, Lincoln Journal Star

Protecting homosexuals from discrimination when they rent an apartment or buy a house is a civil rights issue, said supporters of a bill that would add sexual orientation to the list of housing protections.

Housing has a special element of privacy, including special protection in the constitution from unlawful search and seizure, Sen. David Landis of Lincoln, sponsor of the bill, said Thursday during a public hearing before the Judiciary Committee.

People should have the ability to find a place to live and then be left alone in their own home, Landis said.

Landis said the measure is a response to his sense of morality. The lesson of the New Testament is that we are not to shun those among us, he said.

“LB746 says you don’t get to shun,” he added.

But opponents said the measure offends their sense of morality and religious convictions and is part of a pro-gay legislative agenda.

The bill puts homosexuality on the same level as race. But sexual behavior has to do with character and morality, said Gordon Opp, who said he lived as a homosexual as a young man. He eventually married and had children and grandchildren.

On the surface, the bill seems innocent, said Robert Klotz, who opposed the bill. But it is a “covert ploy to achieve status as a legitimate and legal group. It is special protection of their lifestyle, sodomy,” he said.

The measure would help change the perception so that sexual deviancy would be viewed as normal, he said.

“Today the homosexual. Tomorrow the sheep lover and the dog lover,”he said. “We can’t afford to abandon morality and institutionalize sexual deviancy.”

Supporters said a distinction exists between lewd and illegal behavior and the choice of a sexual partner.

“We are good citizens,” said Donna Colley, an Omaha attorney who came to the hearing with her partner and their young son. “Margaux and I are not diseased.”

However, an Omaha homeowner did not respond to the Colleys’ offer to buy their home after learning they were a lesbian couple.

The sellers told the Colleys: “We think you would be much happier in a different neighborhood,” Donna Colley said.

“We ought to discriminate against the lazy ... against the irresponsible ... against the untrustworthy,” said Landis. And as a landlord, he doesn’t want to rent to people who don’t pay their rent or who kick out the drywall.

But he said he doesn’t make decisions based on a person’s sexual orientation.

Landlords could refuse to rent to people who have criminal behavior under the measure. But they could not make rental decisions based on a person’s sexual orientation or “who you dream of,” Landis said.

Under the measure, a landlord could not evict two men who kiss in the back yard of a rental home unless there is a clause in the lease prohibiting all renters from kissing in the back yard, Landis said in answer to a question.

Opponents also raised objections to a bill that would “create gray areas where people who are homosexual might contend there was discrimination where none existed.”

The bill is the last of three measures that offer protection based on sexual orientation to have a public hearing this year. The two other bills—LB441, which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, and LB671, which would allow unmarried partners to make funeral and burial decisions—are being held in committee and likely will not move to the full Legislature.

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