Gay ex-Nebraska football player lobbies legislature to pass gay rights bill

"If my fellow teammates could accept and love me for being gay over a decade ago, why is it so hard to accept other LGBT people in the workplace here in Nebraska now?" Eric Lueshen asks.

Eric Lueshen was a kicker for the University of Nebraska from 2003-2005 and was openly gay to his team. He told his tale publicly earlier this year and is now front and center lobbying Nebraska legislators to pass a bill that would ban job discrimination based on sexual orientation.

State Sen. Danielle Conrad read part of a letter that Lueshen submitted to newspapers throughout the state in support of Legislative Bill 485, which could be voted on as early as Monday. Opponents are citing religious freedom in an attempt to kill the bill.

Here is what Lueshen wrote:

From 2003-2006, I was an openly gay Husker football player hailing from Pierce, Nebraska. Teammates, coaches, fellow athletes, my family, and people from all over supported and accepted me for who I was. What mattered to them was the person I was on the inside; someone with strong moral values and great character.

If my fellow teammates could accept and love me for being gay over a decade ago, why is it so hard to accept other LGBT people in the workplace here in Nebraska now?

LB 485, pending before the Nebraska Legislature, would update our nondiscrimination laws to include equal employment opportunities for LGBT Nebraskans. Current law already protects people from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, marital status or national origin. No one should be fired for who they are and who they love. It is a simple matter of fairness and justice. It sends the positive message that Nebraska is a welcoming place to live and work.

Gay and Lesbians in Nebraska pay taxes, vote, serve in the military, and run successful businesses. We go to school, play football, and cheer for the Huskers. We should be treated equally under the law.

I believe that most Nebraskans want to treat each other fairly and do the right thing. But when good judgment breaks down, we need to have laws that protect people. No one should have to live in fear that they can be fired from their job for a reason that has nothing to do with their job performance.

I fully support LB485, and I'm sure my former Husker teammates and coaches do as well. Please join me in the fight for equal employment opportunities for LGBT Nebraskans. I urge you to ask your legislator to act for equality and vote for LB485.

Sincerely,
Eric Lueshen

While we rightly celebrate more and more states getting gay marriage, we still need to realize that millions of LGBT Americans still live in states where it is legal for them to be fired for their sexual orientation. Lueshen's Cornhusker teammates did not want him "fired" from the team and instead embraced him. Let's hope Nebraska legislators are as progressive.

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