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News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

First Reading of Springfield Non-Discrimination Ordinance Set for Monday

Springfield's historic City Hall building (Photo credit: KSMU)

A bill adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the City of Springfield’s non-discrimination ordinance goes before City Council on Monday.

The scheduled first reading of the bill comes more than two years after council tabled the controversial item and later formed the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Task Force. After months of review, the task force released its recommendations in November 2013.  

In February, we were informed by city officials that the bill was likely to come back before council in the spring. But it wasn’t until last month that the Task Force formally presented its report to the City Council.  

A bill and a substitute bill are on Monday’s agenda.

One, sponsored by council members Cindy Rushefsky, Craig Hosmer, Doug Burlison and Mike Carroll, would expand the city's nondiscrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations. The bill would also include exemptions for religious organizations. The substitute bill, sponsored by Mayor Bob Stephens and Councilman Craig Fishel, would prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the case of housing only. See entire versions of each bill here.

Roughly 300 people attended the last formal council meeting addressing the issue two years ago, and Mayor Stephens is expecting another large crowd.

The city says citizens wishing to speak on behalf of the bill may call the City Clerk’s office at 864-1443. The sign-up period to speak will continue until the title of bill is read at the meeting Monday evening. Remarks will be limited to three minutes each, per direction from Mayor Stephens. According to City Code: Chapter 2-42, remarks must be limited to the bill itself. Mayor Stephens said he will ask anyone straying from the content of the bill to return back to the content. Those not complying may asked to conclude their comments.

Monday's meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at Historic City Hall. View the council agenda here.

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