OZARK, Mo. — A prominent Springfield, Mo., attorney has penned a letter praising a local fire department for denying health benefits to a gay firefighter’s wife, saying he is tired of attempts “to cram homosexuality and lesbians down our throats,” drawing a rebuke from an LGBT advocacy group.
Dee Wampler sent the letter to several individuals regarding the debate of health benefits within the Ozark Fire Department.
Capt. Andi Mooneyham, an Ozark firefighter, recently petitioned for health benefits for her wife and other same-sex couples who work for the department, now and in the future.
Last month, the Ozark Fire Department declined to allow the benefits for Mooneyham’s spouse after board attorney Todd Johnson advised that “Missouri‘s constitution, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, does not allow the policy change.”
Wampler’s letter expressed his support of the board’s decision, and his belief that marriage is between one man and one woman: “I am tired of promo attempting to cram homosexuality and lesbians down our throats,” the letter says, referring to PROMO, Missouri’s statewide LGBT advocacy organization. “You have followed the law and I congratulate you. Now — back to fighting fires.”
PROMO Deputy Director Stephanie Perkins said she was disappoinbted by the letter: “Capt. Mooneyham, just like every other LGBT person, deserves the right to ask for equal protection in the workplace and under the law without fear of being attacked by such degrading language. If there was any doubt homophobia and discrimination exist in Springfield, there shouldn’t be now.”
According to the Ozark fire department, three of the five board members supported changing the policy to allow equal benefits for same-sex partners.
Mooneyham declined to comment on the letter.