SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — After years of debate, the Springfield City Council has approved a bill that expands the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.
The council voted 6-3 Monday to pass the stronger of two proposed ordinances on the issue. The change, which prohibits discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations, takes effect immediately.
The weaker bill would have provided protections for housing and requested more study on discrimination in employment and public accommodations, the Springfield News-Leader reported.
“I believe this issue is about respect, dignity and fairness to our fellow citizens that are members of the LGBT community,” said councilwoman Jan Fisk, who voted for the stronger ordinance. She added later, “We cannot build Springfield’s future by holding on to discrimination from Springfield’s past.”
Council member Cindy Rushefsky also voted for the ordinance and said the ordinance’s passage is a simple statement of equality and that “it’s a shame we have had to struggle for so long to really establish that principle in our daily lives.”
Councilman Craig Fishel voted against the ordinance and said he “found no hard evidence that there is discrimination.” He said churches in his zone had expressed concerns about the city law.
Article continues belowCalvin Morrow, spokesman for an opposition group called Springfield Citizens United, said an effort would begin immediately to gather signatures for a referendum petition that, if successful, would put the issue to a public vote. He said the petition would need 1,200 valid signatures, and he expects that it’ll get 1,000 on the first day.
According to LGBT advocacy group PROMO, Springfield is the 15th municipality in Missouri to add the protections.
“It could have gone either way and we’re just really, really happy that they saw the value in taking these full comprehensive protection steps,” said Stephanie Perkins, PROMO’s deputy director.
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