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LB 968 and My Thoughts

I was recently informed of Legislative Bill 968 and its importance by my colleagues at Disability Rights Nebraska. My immediate reaction to the standard of equality that this bill presents and stands for was, and is, on full display.

Growing up with a disability, my mother taught me that physical limitations do not limit your ability to help make lasting and meaningful change.

Cerebral Palsy does not fully define who I am, so why must the government define me specifically within the prism of my disability? My desire or ability to work should not be predicated on my perceived physical limits.
This bill put forth by State Senator Wayne would immensely improve, in my opinion, not only the quality of my work viability and options, but this bill would undoubtedly improve my overall quality of life.

On February 23rd, 2018, as I approached the State Capitol building, the words of my mother rang through my head in paraphrased form: “be smarter, be bolder, give better”. I knew at that precise moment that a feeling of nervousness--due to the nature and physical presence of the building that I was about to enter—could not, would not serve me well in the moment at hand. My task was indeed simple: to profess with my mouth what I know to be true in my heart. People with disabilities are beyond tired of laws that actively engage, knowingly or not, in the practice of “separate but equal” as it relates to workplace compensation and people with disabilities. An even more imperative shift in thought is certainly needed when it comes to stereotyping people with disabilities. So why not begin to help eliminate the process of stereotyping people with disabilities by ending the process of pay disparity?

The bill captures the hope that I have for myself, and all individuals who inhabit the disability community. The fight for work equality takes shape in an entire myriad of forms. I am exhausted with the seemingly endless task of trying to codify my reasons for wanting to work.

Don’t misunderstand my frustrations as those of an individual who is not grateful for the medical benefits that I receive. I simply never understood begging for a seat at the table of the working individual when the seats should be readily available for all persons who wish to work to the fullest extent of their potential, regardless of disability. When speaking to the legislative body assembled in the hearing room, I spoke of my mother quite openly. She was, without a doubt, my fiercest and most ardent advocate. The adoption of this bill would not only be the culmination of my dream, but hers as well.

Second-class citizenship is an intolerable offense in every aspect of life, or so we like to say. I propose we allow the great feeling of those words to be in congruence with greater concrete action. People with disabilities need the passage of this bill to truly live.
Michael Warner is from Omaha, NE. He serves on the Disability Rights Nebraska Board of Directors. He is an active self-advocate, student, contract consultant, brother, uncle, and poet.