Springfield, Missouri’s third largest city, Tuesday (7 April) narrowly voted to take away protections from LGBTI people.
Some 15,347 (51.4%) city residents voted to repeal an ordinance that protected LGBTI people against discrimination in housing and hiring, even though it contained religious exemptions.
Just under 15,000 people voted to keep the law, which was passed six months ago.
LGBTI advocacy group PROMO called the vote disappointing.
‘We are still here for each other, and we will still work together to continue to make Springfield a welcoming place for ALL people,’ executive director AJ Bockelman said in a statement.
‘Tomorrow, just as today, we continue working to achieve equality.’
Springfield councilors voted 6-3 to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s non-discrimination ordinance. Opponents voiced concern about religious freedom and ‘untended dangers’ for businesses and bathrooms across the city, and quickly gathered enough signatures to force a repeal or public vote.
The Springfield News-Leader noted that thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours had been poured into both sides of the campaign, and the outcome would have been emotional either way.
Justin Burnett, who won a council seat Tuesday, supported the repeal of the ordinance.
‘The problem with the ordinance is that it had so many potential legal ramifications for businesses, for public safety, for the good of the city,’ he said. ‘There was no need for the ordinance.’
‘A lot of people of faith thought this ordinance neglected their constitutional and God-given rights,’ he said. ‘So it is a victory for the faith community.’
Missouri has no state-level protections for LGBTI residents, so the ordinance was the only thing preventing them from being fired or evicted just for being gay or transgender.