OMAHA -- The Omaha City Council has approved an ordinance that would extend protections to gay and transgender people.
The proposal, put forward by Councilman Ben Gray, would apply to employers, employment agencies, job training programs, labor groups, public accommodations and businesses that contract with the city. It also would provide exemptions for religious groups.
A similar proposal failed in October 2010 on a 3-3 vote, but passed Tuesday 4-3.
Nebraska's anti-discrimination laws and federal regulations don't extend protection to gay and transgender people.
Man pleads innocent in Hasidic village fire
RAMAPO, N.Y. -- A man has surrendered to face charges he set ablaze a car that belonged to a dissident member of a Hasidic Jewish community in suburban New York.
Aron Fromowitz pleaded innocent to arson and criminal mischief charges Tuesday.
He is accused of setting fire to Aron Rottenberg's car earlier this month.
Rottenberg told police that Fromowitz had been drinking and celebrating the Jewish festival of Purim, the Journal News reported. Fromowitz works for the grande rebbe's kitchen and once prayed with Rottenberg.
Last May, Rottenberg was severely burned with a firebomb outside his home in New Square. Shaul Spitzer, 18, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault in that attack.
Catholic official faces $900,000 theft charge
PHILADELPHIA -- A former financial executive of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been charged with stealing more than $900,000 from the church.
Anita Guzzardi, 42, surrendered Tuesday, city prosecutors said. She was fired in July, weeks after becoming chief financial officer. Guzzardi used hundreds of church checks to pay personal credit card bills from 2005-11, according to prosecutors. The investigation began when American Express contacted authorities.
Guzzardi's lawyer did not respond to request for comment Tuesday.
The Haddon Heights, N.J., woman had worked for the Roman Catholic archdiocese since 1989.
Prosecutors say they have recovered about $150,000 for the church. The archdiocese says insurance will pay for most of the remaining losses.
Prayer protester to get $100,000 settlement
HONOLULU -- Hawaii will pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit by a protester who was dragged out of the state Senate when he objected to a prayer.
Mitchell Kahle is founder of the Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church. His friend Kevin Hughes videotaped Senate Sergeant-At-Arms Ben Villaflor pulling on Kahle's arm in April 2010 after he objected to an opening prayer. Kahle was then hustled outside and seen on the ground with Villaflor and three uniformed deputies on top of him.
Hughes claims sergeant-at-arms employees attacked him and broke his camera.
The attorney representing both men told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the lawsuit establishes that nonviolent protest and filming in public should not be met with force.
U.S.' oldest Portuguese Catholic parish closing
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. -- A New Bedford church that has been home to the oldest Portuguese Roman Catholic parish in North America is closing.
The Diocese of Fall River announced Monday that St. John the Baptist church will close and the parish will be merged with Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
St. John the Baptist Parish was established by the Boston Archdiocese in 1871 to serve the area's burgeoning Portuguese-speaking population. The current building dates to 1913.
A diocese spokesman said the church was selected for closure because of deep debt and declining membership. The parish needs $1.5 million in repairs.
The Rev. John Oliveira, pastor of both parishes, said the news was received at last weekend's Masses with great sadness. No date for a closure has been set.